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SAPARD: the pre-accession agricultural instrument

Measures in favour of agriculture and rural development
in the Central and East European candidate countries

Official title

SAPARD, Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Community aid for pre-accession measures in favour of agriculture and rural development in the applicant countries of Central and Eastern Europe during the pre-accession period.


Legal references

Commission Regulation (EC) no. 2759/1999 of 22 December 1999 laying down rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) no.1268/1999 on Community support for pre-accession measures for agriculture and rural development in the applicant countries of central and eastern Europe in the pre-accession period.(Official Journal L 331 of 23 December 1999)

Council Regulation (EC) no.1268/1999 of 21 June 1999 on Community support for pre-accession measures for agriculture and rural development in the applicant countries of central and eastern Europe in the pre-accession period. (Official Journal L 161 of 26 June 1999).

Commission Decision 1999/595/EC of 20 July 1999 on the indicative allocation of the annual Community financial contribution to pre-accession measures for agriculture and rural development.(Official Journal L 226 of 27 August 1999).

Commission Regulation (EC) no. 2222/2000 of 7 June 2000 laying down financial rules for the application of Council Regulation EC no. 1268/1999. (Official Journal L 253 of 7 October 2000)

These documents follow on the Commission communication "Agenda 2000" and on the conclusions of the European Council in Berlin which decided upon the creation of financial aid as structural and agricultural pre-accession instruments for the CEECs.



  • To establish a framework of Community aid for sustainable agriculture and sustainable rural development for the Central and East European applicant countries (CEEC) during the pre-accession period;
  • To solve the problems of long-term adjustment of the agricultural sector and of rural areas;
  • To help implement the acquis communautaire with regard to the common agricultural policy and related policies.

Beneficiary countries

The SAPARD instrument is intended for the 10 candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe:

  • Bulgaria;
  • Estonia;
  • Hungary;
  • Latvia;
  • Lithuania;
  • Poland;
  • Romania;
  • Slovakia;
  • Slovenia;
  • the Czech Republic.

The aids earmarked for the SAPARD and ISPA (environment and transport) instruments satisfy the conditions laid down in the accession partnerships concluded by the European Union with each of the applicant countries. These aids are also compatible with the principles of the national programme for the adoption of the acquis communautaire.

They also comply with the provisions of the European agreements, including their application procedures concerning State aids. In addition, these measures must also comply with the objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), particularly with regard to the market organisations, and to the objectives of the Community's structural measures. They must not cause disruption on the market.



Within the applicant countries, there are two categories of operators, also called "final beneficiaries":

  • public or private enterprises or organisations, responsible for performing the operations;
  • institutions, entrusted by the national authorities to grant the public aids.


The actions to promote agriculture and rural development shall be the subject of a plan, drawn up at the most appropriate geographical level.

This plan is prepared by the competent authorities designated by the applicant country.

The plan shall include:

  • a quantified description of the current situation;
  • a description of the strategy proposed;
  • an ex-ante appraisal;
  • an indicative table sommarising the national, Community, and where relevant, private financial resources;
  • the names of the competent authorities and the bodies responsible for the programme's implementation;
  • a definition of "final beneficiaries";
  • a description of the measures contemplated, including the aid schemes;
  • the provisions guaranteeing correct implementation of the programme (follow-up, assessment and definition of quantified indicators);
  • the results of the consultations and provisions adopted to bring together the competent authorities and bodies and the economic, social and environmental partners.

In these plans, the applicant countries must give priority to actions whose purpose is to:
  • improve market efficiency;
  • improve quality and health standards;
  • create new jobs in rural areas, and this in compliance with the provisions on environmental protection.


The deadline for sending the "SAPARD" plans to the Commission has been set for the end of December 1999 unless otherwise agreed with the candidate countries. The Commission has six months from the date the plan is sent by the applicant country to approve an "agricultural and rural development programme", drown up on the basis of the "SAPARD" plans (the final deadline is 1 July 2000). The Commission approved all programmes during the months of October and November 2000.

This programme covers a maximum period of seven years from the year 2000.

However, once it has joined the European Union, the former applicant country and new Member State loses the right to benefit from the aids earmarked for SAPARD but should then be able to benefit from the aids provided under the economic and social cohesion policy.


Eligible measures / Nature of the activities

The Community aid measures of for agriculture and rural development concern:

  • investments in agricultural holdings;
  • improving the processing and marketing of agricultural and fisheries products;
  • improving the structures for quality, veterinary and phytosanitary controls, for the quality of foodstuffs and consumer protection;
  • agricultural production methods designed to protect the environment and maintain the countryside;
  • the development and diversification of economic activities with a view to creating multiple activities and alternative incomes;
  • the creation of farm relief and farm management services;
  • the creation of producer groups;
  • the renovation and development of villages, the protection and conservation of the rural heritage;
  • land improvement reparcelling;
  • the creation and updating of land registers;
  • the improvement of vocational training;
  • the development and improvement of rural infrastructure;
  • agricultural water resources management;
  • forestry, including afforestation of agricultural areas, investments in privately owned forests, and the processing and marketing of forestry products;
  • the technical assistance for all these measures (studies, information and publicity campaigns).

Nature and amount of the aids

The Community contribution will not exceed 75% of the total eligible public expenditure.
With regard to revenue-generating investments, public aid will not exceed 50% of the total eligible cost; the Commission will contribute a maximum of 75%.
As far as technical assistance measures are concerned, the Community subsidy may cover as much as 100% of the total eligible cost.


European Union financial support

The Community action completes the corresponding national actions or contributes to these.

Community assistance is granted for the period 2000-2006; it comes to a total annual amount of 520 million euros (in 1999 inflation-adjusted prices), and this for a period of seven years. The financial allocation has been established for each applicant country on the basis of the following criteria:

  • the agricultural population;
  • the agricultural area;
  • the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in purchasing power parity;
  • the specific situation of the area.

In its decision of 20 July 1999, the Commission decided the annual indicative financial allocation for the 10 applicant countries concerned by the SAPARD instrument.

Czech Republic



The SAPARD instrument is implemented through a close cooperation procedure between the Commission, the applicant country, the competent authorities and bodies and the economic and social partners at the appropriate level. This cooperation concerns the preparation and implementation, as well as the appraisal, monitoring and evaluation of the measures.

Thus, a monitoring committee is set up for each agricultural and rural development programme.

The programme will be managed in a decentralised manner through SAPARD agencies in each of the ten Candidate countries. The Commission Regulation No 2222/2000 of 7 June 2000 lays down the conditions under which the management of the aid is conferred to these agencies. The Commission intends to include these conditions in financing agreements negotiated with each country.

Communication means

Each year, the applicant countries must submit to the Commission an annual report on the progress achieved.

The same is true for the European Commission which has to present each year to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions a report on the Community aid allocated to the applicant countries under the SAPARD instrument.

Presentation factsheets of the pre-accession instruments, SAPARD and ISPA, are available on:

Legal text concerning SAPARD can be downloaded from:

The SCADPLUS database, accessible on the Europa site, has an important chapter on the Enlargement process. It contains information listed under the headings:

  • Current situation and perspectives;
  • Global approach (including a presentation of the main financial instruments);
  • Applicant country by applicant country: a presentation of the accession partnership and the state of play with regards to the fields of the acquis communautaire.

All this information is available at the address

In addition, DG Agriculture publishes newsletters which include information on the SAPARD programme. They are available on:


last update: 01/2001

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