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the pre-accession structural instrument

Community aids for the environment and transport
in the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe


Official title

Council Regulation (EC) no.1267/1999 of 21 June 1999 establishing a pre-accession structural instrument.


Legal references

  • Commission Decision (2000/229/EC) of 7 March 2000 fixing an indicative allocation between the beneficiary countries of the total amount of Community assistance under the Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-accession, published in the Official Journal L 72 of 21 March 2000.

  • Council Regulation (EC) no.1267/1999 of 21 June 1999 establishing an Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-accession, published in the Official Journal L 161 of 26 June 1999.

    This Regulation follows on from the Commission communication “Agenda 2000” and the conclusions of the European Council in Berlin which led to a strengthening of the pre-accession strategy for the applicant countries of Central and Eastern Europe. This enhancement implies the creation of structural assistance to complement the PHARE programme and agricultural development aid.



To provide financial assistance for economic and social cohesion, particularly in the area of the environment and transport infrastructures, in order to prepare the Central and East European countries (CEECs) for accession to the European Union.


Beneficiary countries

The ISPA instrument is intended for the 10 Central and East European applicant countries:

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

The aids earmarked for the ISPA instrument 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 programmes for the adoption of the acquis communautaire.



Public bodies or like bodies whose activities are carried out in an administrative or legal framework, entrusted by the national authorities of the applicant countries with the task of implementing the projects.



Community assistance for ISPA is granted during the period from 2000 to 2006.

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


Eligible Measures

The Community assistance provided under ISPA includes projects, stages of a project that are technically and financially independent (e.g. preliminary studies, feasibility studies, technical assistance studies), groups of projects in the fields of the environment or transport infrastructures.

Measures eligible in the environment field must:

  • able the beneficiary countries to comply with the requirements of the acquis communautaire and the objectives of the Accession Partnerships;

  • be substantial enough to have a significant impact on environmental protection.

Measures eligible in the transport field must:

  • enable the beneficiary countries to comply with the objectives of the Accession Partnerships;

  • promote sustainable means of travel;

  • set up projects of common interest and therefore target the interconnection and interoperability of national networks as well as with the trans-European networks, including access to such networks.

A balance must be struck between the environmental measures and the transport infrastructure measures.

The total cost of each measure may not, in principle, be less than 5 million euros.

Community assistance may also be granted for preliminary studies and technical support measures (including information and publicity actions).


Nature and amount of aids

Community assistance may take the form of non-repayable direct assistance, repayable assistance or any other form of assistance.

The Community contribution may cover as much as 75% of the public or equivalent expenditure (up to 85% if the Commission so decides after the opinion of the Management Committee). The rate of assistance may also be modulated depending on the availability of match funding (international financial institutions or banks) or the capacity to generate income.

With regard to the preliminary studies and technical assistance measures undertaken at the initiative of the Commission, the Community subsidy may cover 100% of the total eligible cost.


European Union Financial support

The Community assistance granted for the period 2000-2006 provides for an amount of 1040 million euros per year (1999 prices) for the 10 applicant countries.

The Commission decision on the indicative breakdown of the ISPA per beneficiary country (% band of the total) is as follows:

Country % of tha total
Bulgaria between 8 et 12
Estonia between 2 et 3.5
Hungary between 7 et 10
Latvia between 3.5 et 5.5
Lithuania between 4 et 6
Poland between 30 et 37
Czech Republic between 5.5 et 8
Romania between 20 et 26
Slovakia between 3.5 et 5.5
Slovenia between 1 et 2

The financial allocation, determined for each applicant country, is based on the following criteria:

  • population ;
  • gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in purchasing power parity;
  • surface area;
  • the respective lackings of the countries with regard to environmental and transport infrastructures.



The Commission approves the decisions on the ISPA measures to be financed after the opinion of the Management Committee.

The Management Committee is composed of representatives of the Member States and is presided over by the Commission.

The beneficiary countries submit applications for the financing of measures to the Commission. The Commission may, however, of its own initiative grant assistance in the case of preliminary studies and technical support measures where there is a prevailing common interest.

Applications must contain at least the following information:

  • the name of the body responsible for implementation, the nature of the measure and a description of;

  • the cost and location of the measure;

  • the timetable for the implementation of the work;

  • a cost-benefit analysis;

  • an environmental impact assessment;

  • the financing plan;

  • for the environment measures: the place and priority of these measures within the national environmental strategy;

  • for the transport infrastructure measures: the place and degree of priority of these measures within the national transport development strategy.

The Commission examines the applications in order to evaluate the measures.

The Commission’s decisions approving the measures also include the amount of financial assistance, a financial plan and any necessary provision for the completion of the measures. All of these provisions are contained in a financial memorandum.

The applicant countries are responsible for the implementation of the projects under the Commission’s supervision.

In each beneficiary country, a central entity is designated to handle the transfer of Community funds granted under the ISPA. The person in charge of this entity is responsible for the management of the funds in the beneficiary country in question.

The beneficiary countries must establish the required management and control systems as from 1 January 2000, and in any event no later than 1 January 2002.

The mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the ISPA must be overseen jointly by the beneficiary country and the Commission. The mechanisms are operated by the Monitoring Committees which convene regularly. Monitoring is carried out using physical and financial indicators in relation to the precise nature of the project in question and its objectives.

Within the Commission, the ISPA structural instrument is managed by DG “Regional Policy”.


Communication means

Each year, the Commission submits to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, a report on the Community assistance granted to the applicant countries under the ISPA.


Additional Sources of Information


last update: 07/2000

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