European regional policy has developed in a specific context. The EC was created with the objective to step up efficiency and stimulate economic growth by integrating the national markets of goods and production factors. That the ensuing structural changes (relocation of economic activities, changing composition of sectoral activity) could have consequences for certain sectors of society, was expected. The most vulnerable groups were concentrated, on the one hand, in particular regions or even countries (geographical dimension) and on the other in particular sectors of the labour force (social dimension). To gather the benefits of integration, the EC has taken upon itself to compensate these groups for their losses and help them adapt to the new situation. In that spirit, redistribution policies, in practice the social and regional policies of the EC, were developed. While the EC has been pledged to social policy ever since its creation, its regional policy did not really take off until after the first enlargement of the EC. Real political commitment to regional policy was not achieved until the 1972 Conference of the European Council. That Paris Conference called for vigorous Community action to diminish regional imbalances, and recognised the need to create a Regional Fund.


Member State Regional Development Regional Policy Regional Problem Regional Disparity 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

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  • Wilhelm Molle

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