The processes of deepening economic integration and regional development contribute to the intensification of inter-regional disparities. The EU’s efforts to achieve cohesion are intended to contribute to lifting the level of socio-economic development, improving the quality of life of residents, and also solving emerging problems, including social ones, so that the benefits of growth spread evenly across the EU. This inevitably has the implication, in the name of solidarity principle, of the need to provide support to countries and regions at a disadvantage to achieve cohesion within the EU. The Union promotes economic, social and territorial cohesion among Member States (MS) through grants of financial assistance and in the many benefits achieved from the implementation of EU policies. One of these policies is the cohesion policy, the aim of which is to achieve a social, economic and territorial cohesion within the Union.

This paper aims to identify current perceptions of cohesion in the EU. Here we will argue that there is no conflictual relationship between economic and social cohesion; that both dimensions are self-reinforcing, and economic cohesion presupposes social cohesion. The paper also discusses the socio-economic cohesion of Poland and its regions against the background of the new EU MS. It will also assess the contribution of EU cohesion policy in the socio-economic development of Polish regions.

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