The indicator Gross-domestic product measures the overall economic output of all economic activities in a region (measured in terms of purchasing power standards).
This indicator is a widely used indicator to measure economic development and prosparity of regions.
Two large-scale features characterize the bigger picture – east-west divide and core-periphery divide. In the ESPON area as a whole, a remarkable east-west division in GDP/cap has preserved. Majority of the regions of CEEC countries except Czech Republic and Slovenia stay still under 50% of the EU 27 average prosperity level. Islands of relative prosperity are mostly metropolitan regions in these countries. However, in the new member states of EU, one can see as more prosperous the western belt bordering the old member states (in Poland, Czeck Republic, Slovakia) while Slovenia has wholly strongly converged with the „old“ Europe. The core-periphery divide is still quite well depicted by the contrast of „blue banana“ and rest of Europe. The relatively well-doing Nordic countries represent the only big deviation from that model. It can be mentioned that in the old member states of EU GDP/capita variations seem to follow not so much metropolitan/non-metropolitan pattern but a more general urban/rural division.
In BSR, geographically located wholly outside the core Europe, the east-west divide is even more prominent due to the differences between the prosperous Nordic countries and relatively poor Baltic States, Russia, Belarus, Poland and former East Germany. Besides, different regional patterns can be seen in these sub- regions. When on the eastern and southern shore of the Baltic Sea metropolitan/nonmetropolitan dichotomy prevails, then in the northern and western shore prosperity of regions does not depend very clearly on their rurality and remoteness and regional un-equity is less in general.
The average annual change of real GDP/capita reflects impacts of financial and economic crisis. Prevailing majority of regions in BSR have succeeded to retain at least modest economic growth. No east-west divide and any other easily identifiable territorial pattern of the GDP change can be observed. Decrease of GDP has occurred obviously due to various unfavorable combinations of local economic factors. Therefore, it can be said that the crisis has had no one-directional impact on economic cohesion in BSR.
Still strong east-west disparities exists between the Nordic countries on one hand and the remaining BSR on other hand. East Germany stands in between them as a transition area. Stronger discontinuities can be observed along the Finnish-Russian border, but not any more on borders along the borders of Russia and Belarus with their Baltic and Polish neighbors. Instead, capital regions of countries, but other metropolitan regions in Poland and Germany, too, emerge as islands of relative prosperity from their surrounding territories. In that aspect, the Nordic countries demonstrate a more homogenous development. As the discontinuity changes are marked on land only, a decrease over 15% points between those large sub-regions has occurred along the Russian-Finnish border. Convergence along the sea borders cannot be visually assessed.
Within the Nordic sub-region, convergence over NUTS 3 borders has been weak. Instead, the divergence of Helsinki and its surrounding from remaining Finland has taken place. In the eastern and southern BSR Leningrad oblast has developed faster than its neighbors and increased discontinuity on its borders, too. Generally, no clear prevailing of divergence or convergence occurs within the larger sub-regions as well as in single countries.