Supporting the accession process
IDA has been actively working with the new Member States since the completion of their accession negotiations in 2002. Even before their formal accession to the EU on 1 May 2004, a series of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) had been negotiated and signed with most of them, enabling them to fully take part in the IDA Programme and benefit from IDA networks and services.
For the new Member States, the Memoranda’s terms and conditions have now been superseded by the general provisions governing the IDA Programme (effective from 1 January 2004). But their early participation in IDA, as well as in a number of other Community programmes, has been a key part of the pre-accession strategy designed to prepare them for full EU membership. The same strategy is now applied to the remaining candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey), which have also signed Memoranda to participate in IDA.
Participation in the IDA Programme has enabled new Member States to familiarise themselves with the European dimension of e-government, use the services made available by the IDA Programme and connect to the EU-wide infrastructure for electronic interchange of data between public administrations. Participation in IDA has thus provided them with decisive support for both implementing EU legislation and delivering their respective e-government programmes.
Communicating IDA benefits
In order to fully inform newly participating countries about IDA’s mission and activities, a series of communication activities have been undertaken. In particular, a series of information meetings (or ‘Info Days’) were organised to introduce IDA and its major components to public administrations, raise awareness (both technical and administrative) about IDA tools and services, and assess readiness for taking part in the programme.
The latest of these Info Days took place in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on 20 April 2004, where IDA officials and representatives of the Lithuanian Ministry of the Interior and of the State Enterprise Infostruktura (operator of the State Data Communication Network VIKT) presented the IDA Programme and its services, as well as the practical details of Lithuania’s participation. As a sign of the strong interest generated, Infostruktura even prepared a Lithuanian translation of the IDA Catalogue, a publication with detailed information about IDA projects.