The EU will continue to provide assistance to help prepare partners for future membership of the European Union and support their accession process. The Council today agreed its position (partial general approach) on the draft Regulation establishing the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III) for the period 2021-2027.
The agreed text does not cover financial and horizontal issues, which will depend on the overall agreement on the next multiannual financial framework.
Pre-accession assistance supports the beneficiaries in adopting and implementing key political, institutional, social and economic reforms to comply with EU values and to progressively align to the EU's rules, standards and policies.
The text of the regulation focuses on the following key elements:
A focus on "fundamentals first"
The partners which aspire to join the Union have to comply with some core criteria (the 'Copenhagen criteria'). These criteria focus on the rule of law and fundamental rights, economic governance and the strengthening of democratic institutions and public administration. The instrument will therefore specifically focus on meeting those criteria.
The instrument also aims at mobilising strategic investments in connectivity of infrastructure, SMEs, energy efficiency, innovation and the digital economy.
Greater impact through increased coherence
The instrument will ensure coherence and complementarity with the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). It will also increase synergies with EU internal policies in a number of key areas such as migration, research and innovation, environment and climate action, transport and energy connectivity.
A balance between performance, and fair share and predictability of assistance
The agreed text strikes a balance between promoting performance and ensuring a fair share of assistance and predictability for the beneficiaries. At the same time, the text also refers to the possibility of reducing proportionately and redirecting such assistance in cases of regression or persistent lack of progress of the beneficiaries. It is also recalled that such reductions could be reversed in cases where progress on reforms resumes.
This agreement opens the way for the Presidency to begin negotiations with the next European Parliament.
On June 2018, the Commission presented its proposal for a Regulation establishing the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III). The Commission proposal suggests an overall budget for the programme of €14.5 billion in current prices for the period 2021-2027. It was proposed that this budget would be divided according to five thematic priorities and be allocated based on the actual performance of beneficiaries on the basis of annual assessment.