Report of June 11, 2012
In this study, we explore how general socio-economic trends within the European Union are reflected in the development of different types of regions during the period from 1995 to 2009 and how economic disparities between EU regions change in the course of these processes. Overall, there is a decrease of regional inequalities in terms of per-capita income, but this is mainly the result of catching up of the Middle and Eastern European countries. Disparities within the EU15 and the EU 12 have remained constant. Moreover, all of the socio-economic tendencies considered in this study in their spatial dimension - the shift towards services, the shift towards technology and knowledge-intensive activities, the rise in labour market participation and the renewed tendency towards urbanisation - point at a persistent or even increasing spatial concentration of economic activities. Thus, we observe two overlapping and opposing trends: convergence and agglomeration. Finally, the regions of the new member states have been gradually catching up in terms of income and productivity since 2000, but the wide gap between the EU12 and the EU15 regarding technology, knowledge-intensity and innovation is hardly narrowing. It might take very long for the EU12 countries to approach the development level of the old member states.
The study was conducted as part of the NEUJOBS project funded by the European Union (FP7).