Closing the gap between the poorer and richer is the goal of the EU Cohesion Policy. Each year, more than 50 billion euro (more than 1 third of the EU budget) of catch-up aid is invested in projects like road building, school construction and tourism development in the poorest parts of the Union. How poor a region is determines how much money it can receive. But what happens when you reward poor regions to be poor? They try to stay poor.

1. What is ‘poor’?

The economic development of a country is often measured by its gross domestic product (gdp). It is the value of all goods and services produced in a country over a certain time period (usually a year or a quarter). This chart shows the gdp’s for all European countries, with the lowest gdp on the left and the highest on the right.

So the European countries with the highest gdp are Germany, the UK and France. That makes sense: they have the biggest populations, so they have more people to produce goods and services. If we want to find out what the richest and poorest countries are, we need to take population into account: