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Financial assistance

The EU provides specific targeted financial aid for candidate and potential candidate countries and limited assistance to new Member States in order to support their efforts to enhance political, economic and institutional reforms.

Pre-Accession Assistance


  • The new Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance came into force on 1 January 2007, bringing all pre-accession support into one single, focussed instrument.
  • The Council regulation establishing IPA was adopted on 17 July 2006, replacing the 2000-06 pre-accession financial instruments PHARE, ISPA, SAPARD, the Turkish pre-accession instrument, and the financial instrument for the Western Balkans CARDS.
  • IPA covers the countries with candidate status (currently Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey) and potential candidate status (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia including Kosovo according to UNSCR 1244).
  • IPA has five components: the transition assistance and institution building (which principally involves institution building measures with accompanying investment); cross-border cooperation; regional development; human resources development; and rural development. The latter three are for candidate countries and are designed to mirror structural funds, thus necessitating the relevant management structures to be in place (see Decentralisation). Potential candidates can benefit from similar measures implemented through the component for transition assistance and institution building.  
  • IPA component I entails national and multi-beneficiary projects. It comes under the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Enlargement, which is also jointly responsible for component II - cross-border cooperation with DG REGIO. DG Enlargement is also responsible for the overall co-ordination of pre-accession assistance. 


  • The Phare programme applied to acceding and candidate countries, principally involving Institution Building measures (with accompanying Investment) as well as measures designed to promote Economic and Social Cohesion.
  • The ISPA programme dealt with large-scale environment and transport investment support, and comes under the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Regional Policy.
  • The SAPARD programme has supported agricultural and rural development and comes under the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Agriculture.
  • Turkey has in the past received pre-accession assistance via similar but different instruments, budget lines and procedures.
  • The CARDS (Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation) Programme has underpinned the objectives and mechanisms of the Stabilisation and Association Process, which remains the EU policy framework for the Western Balkan countries until their eventual accession.

All these instruments have now been replaced by IPA. Existing projects under these former programmes will continue. All new pre-accession actions will now come under the new Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance.

Post-Accession Assistance

  • The 10 new Member States that joined the EU in 2004 received a transition facility in 2004-2006. This post-accession assistance is implemented under the Extended Decentralised Implementation System EDIS. 2006 was the final programming year for the transition facility, although contracting is envisaged to continue until 2008 and payment of funds until 2009.
  • Article 31 of the Act of Accession for Bulgaria and Romania has set up a post-accession Transition Facility for these countries in 2007. This will provide continued financial assistance in a number of core areas requiring further reinforcement, as identified in the 2006 Comprehensive Monitoring Reports. Again, this will be implemented under EDIS.

PRINCE programme

  • The PRINCE programme is designed to provide assistance to implement the information and communication strategy for the European Union. The focus is on information and communication actions on enlargement issues targeting mainly the general public in EU member states.

Monitoring of the assistance

The Commission supervises the implementation of the programmes through its services in DG Enlargement and its EC Delegations in the countries. For this purpose a monitoring system has been established which includes joint monitoring committees between the Commission and the beneficiary countries, where the implementation of financial assistance programmes is discussed with the help of monitoring and evaluation reports and where corrective actions are agreed upon as necessary. Further monitoring takes place based on sectors as well as at the project level.

Annual Reports of DG Enlargement on Financial Assistance

In line with DG Enlargement's obligation to report to the Council and the European Parliament on its activities, two reports are published each year. The first report is entitled "Report on phare, pre-accession and transition instruments" and covers the financial assistance provided by the various financial instruments managed by DG Enlargement. The second report entitled "General report on pre-accession assistance (PHARE-ISPA-SAPARD) covers activities financed by the three pre-accession instruments, Phare, ISPA and SAPARD. The Report focuses on the coordination between these instruments in accordance with Article 13 of the ‘Council Regulation on the co-ordination of pre-accession assistance’ (EC) No 1266/99. (Published in the OJ L 161, 21.06.1999, p.68)

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