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The European Union provides pre-accession aid to countries that are applying to join the Community. This assistance helps candidate countries to meet the EU's accession conditions, which include bringing their institutions and standards into line with the Community acquis: the body of common rights and obligations which binds all Member States to the EU.
Between 2007 and 2013, the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) will act as the Community's sole funding mechanism to help candidate countries meet the obligations of EU membership. The IPA replaces a number of older pre-accession programmes, which ran from 2000 to 2006.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and other international finance institutions also provide co-funding to help candidate countries through the accession process.