The spatial characteristics of the regional economic convergence in the European Union
Keywords:regional economic convergence, disparities, spatial autocorrelation
Largely invoked by decision makers and academic staff, the concept of economic convergence is surrounded by strategic stakes related to the cohesion policy in the EU. Despite the fact that during the last 10 years all the NUTS2 regions of the EU present positive relative growth, the differences and the disparities between them accentuate. When mapped, these spatial disparities are far more visible in the recently integrated Eastern Countries. One explanation for these different rhythms of economic growth is derived from two major geographical effects – the spatial and the territorial autocorrelation. Measuring these coefficients is a methodological issue that can be solved using dissimilarity and territorial appurtenance matrixes and calculus. Unfortunately, the time-series of regional gross domestic product per inhabitant are available only for the 1998 – 2008 period, lacking the economic crisis period which systematically disturbed the growth trends and the disparities.