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The European Union's Instrument for Pre accession Assistance


Over time, the EU has developed a broad spectrum of external aid programmes, which resulted in a complex set of more than 30 different legal instruments. The need to facilitate coherence and improve consistency of the Union’s action, and achieve better results and a higher impact with the resources available, led the Commission to propose a simplified framework for external actions over the 2007-2013 period.

New (and fewer) external relations instruments have therefore been designed to cover in particular the EU co-operation, respectively with developing countries and industrialised countries, the EU neighbourhood policy, enlargement and other specific themes. Among the proposed new legal bases, an instrument for pre-accession assistance, IPA, was presented by the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council. The IPA Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 was adopted on 17 July 2006.


Objectives and scope of IPA

At the junction between external assistance and internal policies, IPA aims at providing targeted assistance to countries which are candidates and potential candidates for membership to the EU.

IPA supersedes the five previously existing pre-accession instruments, Phare, ISPA, SAPARD, Turkey instrument, and CARDS , thus uniting under a single legal basis all pre accession assistance. IPA has also been designed to better adapt to the different objectives and progresses of each beneficiary concerned, so as to provide a targeted and effective support according to their needs and evolution.

In particular, IPA will help strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law, reform public administration, carry out economic reforms, promote respect for human as well as minority rights and gender equality, support the development of civil society and advance regional co-operation, and contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction. For candidate countries, the additional objective is the adoption and implementation of the full requirements for membership, whereas only approximation to these requirements will be requested from potential candidate countries.

Assistance under the IPA

In order to achieve each country's objectives in the most efficient way, IPA consists of five different components. As a result, all beneficiaries have access to measures of a similar nature, with adapted management requirements and in accordance notably with their actual political, economic and administrative situation.

In the case of candidate countries, measures relating to regional, human resources and rural development will be available under those components preparing for the implementation of EU cohesion and agricultural policies after accession. This requires that the country has the administrative capacities and structures to take responsibility for the management of assistance.

In the case of potential candidate countries, such measures will remain in the hands of the Commission, and implemented through the principal component of the instrument, the "transition assistance and institution building" component.

As regards financial allocations, IPA will provide a total amount of 11.468 million euros (current prices) over the 2007-2013 period. Each year, the Commission informs the European Parliament and the Council on its intentions regarding the breakdown of the total envelope. To that effect, a multi-annual indicative financial framework is established, on a three year basis, by country and by component. This financial matrix is revised yearly and included in the annual enlargement package of the Commission, which is presented each autumn to the Council and the European Parliament.

The implementation of assistance under IPA is ensured through annual or multi-annual programmes, as specified in the Commission regulation on Implementation of IPA. All programmes are designed following multi-annual indicative planning documents, a three-year strategy document for each country, where the major areas of intervention and the main priorities are presented by the Commission.

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