The Instrument for pre-accession assistance is a pre-accession instrument providing financial assistance to beneficiary countries(potential candidate countries and candidate countries), supporting them in the transition from status potential candidate into candidate country for EU membership, i.e. member of the EU. The instrument constitutes one of the general instruments directly supporting European External Aid policies.
The first programming period for IPA was established for a period of 7 years, from 2007 until 2013. The new IPA II regulation was adopted in 2014 for the next 7-year period 2014-2020.
The Council of the European Union (EU) for the first time in 2006 established the Instrument for pre-accession assistance of candidate countries and potential candidate countries for EU membership (Regulation1085/2006).
IPA I 2007-2013
The Regulation was adopted in order to improve the efficiency of the Community's External Aid. With this Regulation a new framework has been envisaged for programming and delivery of assistance to candidate countries for EU membership and potential candidate countries for EU membership.
Assistance for candidate countries is used as a support in the following areas:
(а) strengthening of democratic institutions, as well as the rule of law, including its enforcement;
(b) the promotion and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and enhanced respect for minority rights, the promotion of gender equality and non-discrimination;
(c) public administration reform, including the establishment of a system enabling decentralisation of assistance management to the beneficiary country in accordance with the rules laid down in Article 154 of the Financial Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2018/1046;
(d) economic reforms;
(e) development of civil society;
(f) social inclusion;
(g) reconciliation, confidence-building measures and reconstruction; and
(h) regional and cross-border cooperation.
In the case of candidate countries for EU membership (among which is the Republic of Macedonia), assistance shall also be used to support the following areas:
(а) the adoption and implementation of the acquis communautaire.
(b) support for the policy development as well as preparation for the implementation and management of the Community's common agricultural and cohesion policies.
IPA II 2014-2020
On11 March2014, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Regulation(EU) No231/2014 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance(“IPAIIRegulation”). This instrument is a legal base for providing financial assistance to beneficiaries listed in Annex I to the IPA II Regulation (“IPA II beneficiaries“), in adopting and implementing the political, institutional, legal, administrative, social and economic reforms required by those beneficiaries in order to comply with the Union's values and to progressively align to the Union's rules, standards, policies and practices, with a view to Union membership.
Assistance under IPA II shall be provided on the basis of strategy papers, established for the duration of the Union's multiannual financial framework for the period from 2014 to 2020, by the Commission in partnership with the IPA II beneficiary.
This assistance is implemented through programmes and measures as stipulated in Articles 2 and3 of the Common Implementing Regulation.
Implementation shall, as a rule, take the form of annual or multiannual, country-specific or multi-country programmes, as well as cross-border cooperation programmes, established in accordance with the strategy papers and drawn up by the respective IPA II beneficiary and /or the Commission, as appropriate, and adopted by the Commission.
According to the Regulation, the assistance to beneficiaries shall be intended to support their efforts to strengthen:
-democratic institutions and the rule of law,
-public administration reform,
-enforcement of economic reforms,
-respect for human rights and minority rights,
-promote gender equality,
-support the development of civil society and enhancement of regional cooperation, as well as reconciliation and reconstruction, and to promote sustainable development and reducing poverty in these countries.
According to the Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, any European State which endorses the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, may apply to become a member of the Union.
A European State which has applied to join the Union can become a member only when it has been confirmed that it meets the membership criteria established at the Copenhagen European Council in June 1993 and provided that the accession does not overstretch the capacity of the Union to integrate the new member.
IPA II BENEFICIARIES
The Community assists the countries to align with the Union standards and policies throughgranting EU funds under the IPA.
1. Assistance under this Regulation shall pursue the achievement of the following specific objectives according to the needs of each of the beneficiaries, as well as their individual enlargement agenda:
(a) support for political reforms, inter alia through:
(i) strengthening of democracy and its institutions, including an independent and efficient judiciary, and of the rule of law, including its implementation;
(ii) promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, enhanced respect for the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, promotion of gender equality, non-discrimination and tolerance, as well as freedom of the media and respect for cultural diversity;
(iii) regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations;
(iv) promotion of reconciliation, peace-building and confidence-building measures;
(v) the fight against corruption and organised crime;
(vi) strengthening of public administration and good governance at all levels;
(vii) capacity-building measures for improving law enforcement, border management and implementation of migration policy, including the management of migration flows;
(viii) development of civil society;
(ix) improvement of social dialogue and strengthening of the capacities of social partners;
(b) support for economic, social and territorial development, with a view to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, inter alia through:
(i) the achievement of Union standards in the economy, including a functioning market economy, as well as fiscal and economic governance;
(ii) economic reforms necessary to cope with competitive pressure and market forces in the Union, while contributing to the achievement of social and environmental goals;
(iii) fostering of employment and labour mobility, promotion of quality job creation and development of human capital;
(iv) promotion of social and economic inclusion, in particular of minorities and vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities, refugees and displaced persons;
(v) fostering of an inclusive and integrated education system and preservation and restoration of cultural heritage;
(vi) development of physical capital, including improvement of infrastructure, and connections with Union and regional networks;
(vii) strengthening of research, technological development and innovation capacity;
(c) strengthening of the ability of the beneficiaries at all levels to fulfil the obligations stemming from Union membership by supporting progressive alignment with, and adoption, implementation and enforcement of, the Union acquis, including preparation for management of Union Structural Funds, the Cohesion Fund and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development;
(d) strengthening regional integration and territorial cooperation involving the IPA beneficiaries, Member States and, where appropriate, third countries within the scope of Regulation (EU) No 232/2014 of the European Parliament .
Progress towards achievement of the specific objectives shall be monitored and assessed on the basis of pre-defined, clear, transparent and, where appropriate, country-specific and measurable indicators that cover inter alia:
(a) progress in the areas of strengthening democracy, the rule of law and an independent and efficient justice system, respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities and vulnerable groups, fundamental freedoms, gender equality and women's rights, the fight against corruption and organised crime, reconciliation, good neighbourly relations and refugee return, and in particular, the establishment of track records in those areas;
(b) progress in socio-economic and fiscal reforms, addressing structural and macro-economic imbalances; the soundness and effectiveness of social and economic development strategies; progress towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and the creation of an inclusive and integrated education, quality training and employment, including through public investment supported by IPA II; progress towards creating a favourable business environment;
(c) progress in aligning the body of legislation with the Union acquis, including a track record of its implementation; progress in Union-related institutional reform, including transition to indirect management of the assistance provided under this Regulation;
(d) progress in building up and strengthening good governance and the administrative, institutional and absorption capacities at all levels, including adequate human resources, needed to adopt and enforce the acquis-related legislation;
(e) regional and territorial cooperation initiatives and the evolution of trade flows.
 Regulation(EU) No 231/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11March2014establishing the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance(IPAII) (Official Journal L 77, 15 March 2014, pg. 11).
Macedonia – on 15 and 16 December 2005, the European Council in Brussels has granted the status of candidate country for EU membership to the Republic of Macedonia.
This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.