Chapter 6: Cohesion Policy in the European Union: Growth, Geography, Institutions
Thomas Farole, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and Michael Storper INTRODUCTION Economic activity is unevenly distributed across space. As a result, at many different territorial scales (from the world, to among member states of the European Union (EU), and within them) there are conspicuous gaps in wealth, in the density of population and economic activity, and in the compositions of regional and national economies. Since the early 1980s, the EU has witnessed parallel processes of cross-national convergence, with countries in the original periphery of Europe catching up; and withincountry divergence, characterized by rising relative incomes in well-off regions of countries. A number of studies have demonstrated that that interregional disparities have grown since the 1980s, measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and employment (cf. MidelfartKnarvik and Overman 2002; Puga 2002). The standard deviation of per capita GDP (EU15 5 100) for member states as a whole has declined from 12.5 in 1990 to 11.4 in 2000, but that same index increased from 26.5 to 28.5 for subnational regions within member states, and would be much higher if all regions were compared to one another at a European scale. Since the reform of the Structural Funds in 1989, the EU has made the principle of cohesion – of reducing disparities in economic outcome and opportunity amongst European regions – one of its key policies. In the context of rapidly changing economic, demographic and political realities in the EU, most significantly the inclusion of new member states to the east, cohesion...
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