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Key findings from the diagnosis of

Doktor Tomasz Brodzicki

t.brodzicki@instytut-rozwoju.org


1. Metropolitan Area Gdańsk Gdynia Sopot – Trójmiasto (MA) is the most important metropolitan area located in northern Poland and at the same time in the southern Baltic Sea basin with supra-regional-impact. MA range of influence varies between different economic and / or metropolitan functions. MA determines to a large extent the dynamics of development of the Pomerania and is the key to region’s prosperity.

2. 2. MA is located peripherally from European perspective, but centrally from the perspective of the Baltic Sea. Peripheral location and limited market potential associated with the location of the MA and Baltic Europe itself on the periphery of the EU internal market area and the spatial arrangement of other metropolitan areas in its vicinity (limited possibility of linking development, the lack of strong centers nearby) are key development challenges.

3. The metropolis is polycentric and simultaneously bipolar based on the economic potential of Gdansk and Gdynia (and Sopot - Tri-City) and smaller growth centers located in their immediate vicinity (Tczew, Pruszcz Gdansk, Kartuzy, Rumia, Reda, Wejherowo, Puck, Lębork). MA consists of a considerable number of heterogonous local government units with different conditions of development, specificity, and the same of diverse problems, interests and potential of solving them (financial, human potential absorption capacity). Polycentricism of the area can be considered at the same time as an advantage and a major disadvantage.

4. Over the last 25 years the development of MA was largely spontaneous, uncontrolled (eg. suburbanization) and extensive - based on relatively simple catching-up mechanisms and simple solutions. New development opportunities were provided by accession of Poland to the European Union and administrative reform of the country. Without breaking the fundamental barriers the further development of MA is threatened.

5. The main competitors of MA on a national level are monocentric metropolitan centers of Poznan, Wroclaw and Krakow. For structural reasons, such as the significance of the maritime sector, Szczecin can be treated as a natural reference point. MA in the international system should be compared to the metropolitan areas within the Baltic region such as Swedish Goteborg. MA is growing, although the pace is lower than its major competitors. Development gap to the most important competitors deepens.

6. The main competitive advantages (absolute advantages) of MA against competitors are:

§ seaside location (Baltic region) while the Vistula location

§ high attractiveness for settling

Demographic resilience can play an important role as well but it does not have a permanent character – it can suddenly change due to the nature of demographic processes.

7. MA is a multimodal TEN-T hub and one of the key Baltic seaports. As a result of major investment in recent years the ports of Gdańsk and Gdynia have become the main container hub in the Baltic Sea Region and regained the position of the main maritime hub of Polish trade. In the medium to long-term development of the port functions and wider transport node (transport, shipping and logistics cluster) served as the main factor of the development.

8. MA is one of the major academic centers with significant national scientific and educational potential complemented by modern infrastructure to mediate such as business incubators and science parks (eg. Gdańsk Science and Technology Park, Pomeranian Science and Technology Park in Gdynia). Position the center from an international perspective, however, is only mediocre.

9. The structure of the MA economy has a clear post-industrial character with the clear dominance of the market services sector over industry. The share of manufacturing in total employment is higher in the complementary area and especially in the districts of the Kartuzy, Lębork, Gdańsk, Tczew and Wejherowo. In absolute terms, the major industrial center, however, is still the core of MA. MA compared to the country average specializes in medium-low technology industries. MA core marks as location of high technology sectors (specialization in this field, however, weakened) as well as of knowledge-intensive services (especially in terms of market and financial services according to the classification by EC). From sectoral perspective location quotients are the highest for: shipbuilding, processing and preserving of fish and fish products, handling, warehousing and storage of goods, and camping and other short-stay accommodation.

10.  In the last 25 years there has been a noticeable change to the economy of the MA. Inertia of economic processes and the immutability of certain conditions, however, imply that the general structure of the economy is relatively stable. Decline in the importance of shipbuilding, the growing importance of the processing industry in the complementary area and a general increase in the importance of the service sector are the major long-term changes to the structure of the economy.  Deindustrialization is not evident for the metropolitan area treated as a whole.

11. The modern functional and spatial organization of MA is influenced by progressive concentration of market services as well as the supra-local services within the core of the MA (including the inflow of FDI in the field of BPO) with the decline of industry and industrialization of some parts of the peripheral areas. That can be considered as an evidence for functional specialization (individual territories specialize in functions rather than specific sectors, the core is more diverse and specialized in the service functions, peripheral areas in production functions).

12. MA is characterized by a high level of "clustering" of the economy, in particular in the core and the band counties immediately surrounding the core of the MA. Particularly strong clusters exist in shipbuilding, transport, shipping and logistics based on two seaports, jewelry and ICT.

13. MA economy is characterized by high exposure to macroeconomic shocks, the average level of sensitivity to shocks and high absorption capacity. It is characterized by a high level exposure to seasonality due to the profile of firms especially in the ​​complementary are (due to significance of tourism, agriculture and construction).


Policy recommendations

1. Without breaking the fundamental barriers to development, the further development of MA is threatened.

2. Absolute advantages of the metropolitan  area – seaside location and high attractiveness of living conditions, having a permanent character, difficult or impossible to be imitated both by the major domestic and foreign competitors, need to be fully exploited and reinforced the.

3. Sectors key to future economic development of the metropolitan area:

§ Maritime (widely understood, but in particular specialized shipbuilding, offshore, yacht production)

§ logistics based on two seaports - TSL sector (transport, shipping, logistics)

§ ICT (electronics, internet, artificial intelligence)

§ tourism (traditional, events, health-care),

§ business and financial services (BPO / SSC, KIBS)

§ chemical and petrochemical,

§ metal,

§ biotech and pharmaceutical (including cosmetics).

§ energy sector (in the context of the present weaknesses of the MA) will also play an important role (conventional energy, renewable energy, nuclear power plant project).

4. The following key challenges for the economic development of the MA have been identified:

§ depletion of development path based on simple mechanisms of catching-up;

§ uncontrolled development of the metropolitan area;

§ increase in disparities in the levels of development between the core and the supplementary areas;

§ gradual loss of simple competitive advantages including cost advantage;

§ relatively low level of internationalization of the economy of the area;

§ low level of innovation and scientific center potential,

§ significant soft barriers to economic development (low level of mutual trust, limited resources of social capital, limited or ineffective metropolitan cooperation, lack of coordination);

§ lack of strategy, lack of vision and real, consistently implemented development model of the MA;

§ inhibition of de-industrialization of the metropolitan area;

§ increase in conflicts between the main directions of development (eg. the development of ports, logistics centers, industry, shale gas and environmental advantages, the development of tourism) and the rise of the problem in terms of the development of regulatory limitations relating to the protection of the environment (eg. the problem of Natura 2000 areas, development of seaports).

5. In view of the above it is necessary to:

§ change the development model to a more sophisticated and intense;

§ consistently strengthen key competitive advantages and  eliminate weaknesses (eg. an increase in the external and internal accessibility of the MA);

§ attempt to guide development of the metropolitan area;

§ increase capacity to absorb and create new technologies – to develop  scientific potential and its links with the real economy;

§ improve the quality of human and social capital;

§ diversify risks to development - an escape from the trap of excessive specialization (intelligent diversification).

6. Addressing the key issues and tackling the challenges for the future development of the MA requires coordination of local government units as well as other partners and actors. The sine qua non condition for accelerating the rate of growth of the MA and thus putting it on a higher trajectory of development, thorough efficient and extensive metropolitan cooperation based on principles and the framework accepted by all stakeholders. Without this cooperation significant synergies will not be achieved and the development of the MA will still be slower than of its major competitors – this will deepened the competitive gap with negative consequences for residents of the area as well as of the Pomeranian region. In this context, it is worth talking already at this stage of large cost, lost opportunities due to the hitherto lack of well-structured and competent metropolitan cooperation.

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