The concept of Inner Peripheries (IP) as such is new in the European policy arena, as illustrated by the fact that no policy documents deal with it explicitly. However, there are different policy and scientific documents on spatial planning and regional development at national level that specifically approach those 'places' that suffer from socio-economic decline or stagnation. The reasons for the socio-economic 'peripherality' in these regions are various. They mainly depend on the settlement structure of the region/country (centralised or polycentric), as well as on the specific bio-physical characteristics and socio-economic trends (e.g. land cover and linked use dynamics and functionalities, population density, accessibility, etc.). Inner peripheries are transient in time and space, and their perception varies from country to country. This is why GEOSPECS found it impossible to come up with a common set of criteria to delineate these areas across the entire European continent. Since the criteria used to define them are mostly socio-economic, it is difficult to draw a line between the delineation of IP and the characterization of IP. The project therefore does not consider Inner Peripheries as a geographic specificity like the other categories.
After reviewing the different concepts gathered during face-to-face interviews with experts, and those found in grey literature, the following elements appear as central when trying to understand IP:
The following indicators therefore appear as relevant to identifying IP: demographic trends (total population by age segments and out- and in-migration), commuting patterns (based on the working and living locations), size of labour market and access to services. What remains challenging is the identification of critical thresholds for these indicators at pan-European level.
Although the delineation of IPs at the European scale is difficult due to the lack of harmonised datasets on socio-economic indicators at relevant spatial and time scales, some indicators are particularly useful to describe their specific situation, e.g. accessibility to the metropolitan cores in terms of travel time, population potentials (see map), data on employment per economic branch and on the number of gainfully employed persons.
Population potentials mapped at supra-regional level around Parkstad: The map shows the location of a Dutch IP (Parkstad) just outside the reach of core development centres with large populations.
These findings are just some samples from the extensive quantitative analysis that was undertaken for GEOSPECS. The entire analysis can be found in the Draft Final Scientific Report, downloadable on the ESPON website.