What do we talk about when we talk about IPA? The EU accession process

The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) is how the EU has been supporting reforms in the enlargement region with financial and technical assistance since 2007. IPA funds build up the capacities of the beneficiaries throughout the accession process, resulting in progressive, positive developments in the region.

Pre-accession funds are a sound investment into the future of both the enlargement region and the EU itself. They support beneficiaries to implement the necessary political and economic reforms, preparing them for the rights and obligations that come with the EU membership. Those reforms should provide their citizens with better opportunities and allow for the development of standards equal to the ones we enjoy as citizens of the EU. The pre-accession funds also help the EU reach its own objectives including a sustainable economic situation, energy supply, transport, the environment and climate change, and stability.

For the period 2007-2013, IPA had a budget of EUR 11.5 billion. Its successor, IPA II, allocated EUR 12.8 billion for the period 2014-2020. For the new multiannual financial framework period 2021-27, IPA III budget is of EUR 14.162 billion.

The current beneficiaries are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey

From January 2007 onwards, IPA has replaced a series of European Union programmes and financial instruments for candidate countries or potential candidate countries.

The IPA I (2007-2013) was made up of five different components:

  • Assistance for transition and institution building
  • Cross-border cooperation (with EU Member States and other countries eligible for IPA)
  • Regional development (transport, environment, regional and economic development)
  • Human resources (strengthening human capital and combating exclusion)
  • Rural development

The IPA beneficiary countries are divided into two categories:

EU candidate countries (Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and the Republic of North Macedonia) are eligible for all five components of IPA

Potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244/99) are eligible only for the first two components.

The IPA II (2014-2020) legal framework and financial assistance was under the responsibility of DG Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, except for cross-border cooperation between Member States and IPA countries.

The general objective of the new IPA III (2021-2027) instrument is to support the beneficiaries in adopting and implementing the political, institutional, legal, administrative, social, and economic reforms required by those beneficiaries to comply with Union values and to progressively align to Union rules, standards, policies, and practices with a view to Union membership, thereby contributing to their stability, security and prosperity.

IPA III presents a solid policy-driven approach, with strategic and dynamic deployment of assistance, putting the fundamental requirements for the EU membership at the core of the instrument. By further focusing EU financial assistance on key priorities, IPA III will leverage support to reforms fostering sustainable socio-economic development and bringing the partners closer to the Union’s values and standards. At the same time, it will be sufficiently flexible to adapt to the evolving situation in Turkey and reflect developments in our relations with the country.