Urban development patterns in France after the second world war made it necessary to redefine areas in order to draw up better adapted statistical measures. National urban and regional planning policies in the '50s aimed at balancing urban development by favouring the growth of cities, except that of Paris, whose growth had to be limited. Nevertheless, the Greater Paris population also grew as much as the total of the 26 next largest French agglomerations. The excessive number of French communities, added to their relatively limited size, is due to the historical organization of the civil service. The French situation is exceptional: with 36,664 'communes', France has as many local types of council as the rest of the European Union countries put together, before the last enlargement. This dispersion of power appears as a handicap in the perspective of border opening.