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Pre-accession assistance

Pre-accession assistance helps the countries that are candidates for membership of the European Union to satisfy the accession conditions (the Copenhagen criteria). Considerable investment is required if the candidate countries are to bring their institutions and standards in line with the Community acquis and to be able to meet their obligations as Member States.

Pre-accession assistance to the candidate countries is a key factor in the Union's pre-accession strategy and is determined by the accession partnerships.

For the period 2007 – 2013, the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) will be the sole funding vehicle, replacing the pre-accession instruments from the period 2000 – 2006 (Phare, Sapard for structural measures in agriculture, Ispa for infrastructure development in the fields of the environment and transport, the special pre-accession instrument for Turkey), as well as the CARDS programme for the Western Balkan countries.

The IPA is made up of five components: support for transition and institution-building, cross-border cooperation, regional development, human resources development and rural development. The first three components concern the candidate countries and the potential candidate countries. However, the last three components concern the candidate countries only, with the aim of preparing them for adopting and implementing the cohesion policy and managing the Structural Funds.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) also provide cofunding for the candidate countries.

Once they join the Union, the new Member States, which are no longer entitled to pre-accession assistance, receive temporary financial assistance, the Transitional Facility, provided for by the treaty of accession.

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