Urban ‘gateways’ and ‘corridors’, which originated as conceptual tools to aid understanding of North American ‘New World’ regional development patterns in location theory, have been referred to in new ways and different situations in recent geographical literature. This article considers the profound changes reshaping the roles and functions of cities and their trade routes in contemporary globalization — the rise of the informational economy and the network organization of global knowledge‐intensive advanced producer services. The policy response to these developments is critically assessed with reference to evidence from the ‘Polynet’ study which has investigated the changes currently transforming globalizing ‘mega‐city regions’ in the ‘Old World’ setting of North West Europe. The article provides new reflections on the empirical results, addressing an apparent under‐theorization of emergent urban relational geographies in European strategy considered an international role model for regional planning, including in North America. A series of paradoxes posed by the fluid urban geographies revealed in the research is identified to inform an ongoing discourse on the development of European spatial policy.