New Spatial Patterns and Territorial–Administrative Structures in the European Union: Reflections on Eastern Europe
Europe has been integrating politically and economically for the past 60 years. In the Euro-
pean Union (EU), this process has resulted in economic convergence between the Member
States fostered by economic and social cohesion policies and more recently by territorial
cohesion policies. However, divergence between regions has increased. The GDP per
capita and employment differences between the metropolitan areas and the less-favoured
regions are growing (Puga, 2002). Economic activities and growth concentrate highly in
and around the capital cities (CEC, 2006). There has been a faster income conditional con-
vergence in relative income levels in the regions supported by the EU Cohesion Fund, at
least before the EU eastern enlargement (Ramajo et al., 2008). In the Central Eastern
Europe (CEE), in the transition years before the EU accession, regional inequality
decreased between countries but increased within countries. The fastest growth took
place in the capital cities and in areas close to the EU15 border (Ezcurra et al., 2007).
Since the early 2000s, the EU policies, practices and challenges regarding cohesion
have concerned also Eastern Europe.