METREX — The Network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas

The issue:

There are some 70 major metropolitan areas in Europe with populations of 500,000 and over. They comprise perhaps 60-70% of Europe’s population of almost 500m.  They have been described as the engines of the European economy, and share many of the same strategic social, economic and environmental problems and opportunities.  They need effective governance to address such issues in an integrated and coherent way, and yet, despite their issues in common, metropolitan governance systems are far from uniform across EU27 countries.  Consequently, the governance of mega Functional Urban Areas remains inadequately represented in EU policy, and had no pan-European practice forum to compare and contrast the metropolitan dimension.

The solution:


METREX is the Network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas.  It is a network of practitioners — that is, politicians, officials and their academic or consultant advisers, concerned with strategic planning and development at the metropolitan level.  It is essentially a network through which key European metropolitan decision makers can share their knowledge, experience and expertise.

METREX was founded in 1996 at the Metropolitan Regions Conference in Glasgow, with the support of the European Commission, to provide a means of promoting effective metropolitan governance to manage change at the metropolitan level, and contribute a metropolitan dimension to key European issues, such as competitiveness, cohesion and sustainability.

Network issues range across sustainability, economic development, urban regeneration, environmental recovery, and housing and retail land use; and how to plan, monitor and manage for integrated economic, environmental and social result.

From a founding membership of 15 authorities, METREX has now grown to some 58 authorities representing 50 separate metropolitan regions and areas across Europe.  In order to promote and foster networking, METREX meets twice a year in the spring and autumn, and holds a Conference every two years.

Its activities have an international dimension, feature projects within European Commission programmes such as INTERREG, and include Expert Group working on issues of common interest.  The METREX web site at provides the portal through which Network Members and colleagues with an interest in metropolitan affairs can access information on the Network and its activities.

I was the Managing Contractor for the Metropolitan Regions Conference in 1996, and then became a co-creator of METREX, serving as its Head of Secretariat for 12 years.  I was also the named Project Coordinator for InterMETREX, a 5-year INTERREG project which benchmarked the metropolitan planning practice of 31 cities in 18 European countries.

I retired from METREX in 2008, and have since undertaken commissions to project manage and facilitate the scope, influence and impact of METREX beyond Europe — specifically in exchange visits and conferences with:

  • The Arab Urban Development Institute, Dubai
  • The Institute for the Masterplan of Moscow
  • The Shanghai Urban Planning Bureau
  • The Network of Latin American Metropolitan Cities, Santiago de Chile.

The Members of METREX

The Members of METREX


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