This paper applies non-parametric techniques to examine the evolution of the entire distribution of regional productivity in the European Union between 1977 and 1999. In addition, we study the importance of the respective roles played by regional and sectoral factors in the convergence of productivity observed in the European context. To achieve this aim, we consider a new methodology involving a modification of conventional shift-share analysis and various results reported in the literature on personal income distribution. The empirical evidence provided suggests that regional inequality in productivity in the European Union is closely linked to intrinsic differences between regions. Likewise, the analyses developed reveal the major role played by the national component in the explanation of regional disparities in product per worker in the European context. Our findings also support the relevance of one-sector growth models for analysing regional disparities in per capita income.