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Partnership for the accession of Lithuania

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The aim of the Accession Partnership is to assist the authorities in the candidate country in their efforts to comply with the accession criteria. It covers in detail the priorities for accession preparations, in particular implementing the acquis, and forms the basis for programming pre-accession assistance from Community funds such as the Phare programme. Following the signing of the Accession Treaty on 16 April 2003 and the official integration of the country into the European Union on 1 May 2004, the accession partnership has come to an end.

In its communication " Agenda 2000 ", the European Commission has set out a range of proposals for strengthening the pre-accession strategy for all the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The general objective of this strategy is to offer a coherent programme for preparing these countries for membership of the European Union, and more particularly:

  • to bring together the various forms of aid offered by the European Union within a single framework, the accession partnerships;
  • to familiarise applicants with the European Union's procedures and policies by offering them the opportunity to participate in Community programmes.

1) OBJECTIVE

The objective of the partnership for accession (adopted in March 1998 and amended in December 1999 and in January 2002) is to provide a legal framework for the working priorities set out in the Commission's opinion on Lithuania's application for membership, the financial resources available to help Lithuania implement these priorities and the conditions which apply to this aid. The partnership underpins a range of instruments to support candidate countries in the accession process.

These include a national programme for adopting the Community acquis (PNAA) (revised in February 2002), joint evaluation of medium-term economic priorities, the pact against organised crime, the national development plan and other sectoral programmes required for participation in post-accession structural funds and pre-accession implementation of ISPA and SAPARD. In 2002, the partnership for accession served as the starting point for preparing an action plan to reinforce the administrative and judicial capacity of Lithuania.

Although these instruments will not form an integral part of the partnership their priorities will be compatible.

The implementation of the partnership for accession will be monitored under the Europe Agreement between the European Union and Lithuania.

2) PRIORITIES

These are divided into two groups: short- and medium-term priorities. The priority issues in the first group are those Lithuania was likely to tackle or complete during 2000. Those in the second group should be settled by the end of 2003.

Lithuania has largely achieved the political and economic criteria priorities. The same is true for those relating to the free movement of goods, company law, competition, statistics, employment and social policy, energy, the environment, consumer protection and health. Most of the other priorities have been partly achieved.

The accession partnership priorities were reviewed in December 1999 (see point 3 of the Annex to Decision 1999/856/EC). The most recent review was published in February 2002 (Decision 2002/89/EC). This forms the basis of the Commission report for 2002.

The priority areas are:
(for up-to-date information on this subject, please refer to the Adoption of the Community acquis section)

3) FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

Phare

EUR 38.3 million was allocated under the 2000 Phare programme for Lithuania. A further EUR 1 million was earmarked for cross-border cooperation. This included a support mechanism for small cooperation projects in the Baltic region. Lithuania was granted EUR 45.5 million under Phare 2001. A further EUR 3 million were set aside for Baltic crossborder cooperation. Phare 2002 allocated EUR 43.7 million to Lithuania, plus a further EUR 18.5 million under the facility specified by the programme to strengthen the country's institutions. An amount of EUR 3 million for cross-border cooperation was also agreed for Lithuania.

Up to 2006, the Commission has promised to allocate financial aid to the tune of EUR 165 million for the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant. Most of this aid will be provided by the international support fund for the decommissioning of Ignalina, set up in June 2000 and managed by the EBRD. An initial protocol for EUR 10 million was allocated in 1999, EUR 35 million in 2000 and EUR 55 million in 2001.

The Lithuanian authorities are assuming responsibility for aid contracts and payments. However, the European Communities' Financial Regulation requires the Commission to oversee contract award procedures and to approve any Phare-funded contract signed by the partner country before it comes into effect.

Pre-accession Aid

Aid for agriculture and rural development (SAPARD) and a structural instrument (ISPA) giving priority to aid in the transport and environmental sectors will be introduced in 2000. The Regulation coordinating aid under Phare, SAPARD and ISPA was adopted in June 1999. It enables the Commission to carry out ex post monitoring of contracts where it considers financial control in the partner country to be deficient.

The total financial aid made available between 2000 and 2002 was EUR 126 million for Phare, EUR 90 million for SAPARD and approximately EUR 155 million for ISPA. SAPARD 2002 allocated an indicative envelope of EUR 31.3 million to Lithuania, and that from ISPA was between EUR 44 and 65 million.

4) REFERENCES

Council Decision 98/265/EC of 30 March 1998
Official Journal L 121 of 23.04.1998

Council Decision 1999/856/EC of 6 December 1999
Official Journal L 335 of 28.12.1999

Commission Opinion COM(97)2007 final
Not published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(98) 706 final
Not published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(1999) 507 final
Not published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2000) 707 final
Not published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1750
Not published in the Official Journal

Decision 2002/89/EC of 28.01.2002
Official Journal L 44 of 14.02.2002

Commission Report COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1406
Not published in the Official Journal

Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236, 23.09.2003]

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 19.11.2004
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