Traditionally, EU policies have been focused on economic and social cohesion. Recently, the territorial dimension of regional disparities as an aspect of EU policy has gained importance. The European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP), adopted in 1999, is meant to support a balanced development of the EU territory. Moreover, the European Commission addressed issues of territorial cohesion in its latest cohesion report. The present paper deals with territorial disparities and their current development in the EU. It analyses which kind of regions develops dynamically and offers favourable labour market conditions. The differences between rural and urban areas are a fundamental feature of territorial disparities in the EU and are of essential signifi cance for the ESDP. The analysis deals with the question whether disparities between poor and rich regions as well as different growth trends and labour market conditions are still marked by the dualism between city and countryside.
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