Regulation EU 2021/1529 establishing the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA III) – IPA III Regulation, which came into force on January 1, 2021, sets out the general multiannual financial framework (MFF) for providing assistance to the EU candidate and potential candidate countries for the period of the 2021–2027. The general goal of IPA III is helping its beneficiaries align themselves with EU rules, standards, policies and practices to prepare for EU membership by promoting political, institutional, legal, administrative, social and economic reforms. Towards this end, the Regulation sets out the following six specific goals:
2. reinforce the effectiveness of public administration, support transparency, structural reforms and good governance at all levels, including in the areas of public procurement and State aid;
3. shape rules, standards, policies and practices of the IPA III beneficiaries in alignment with those of the Union and reinforced regional cooperation, reconciliation and good neighbourly relations, as well as people-to-people contacts and strategic communication;
4. strengthen economic and social development and cohesion, with particular attention to youth, including through quality education and employment policies, through supporting investment and private sector development, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as on agriculture and rural development;
5. reinforce environmental protection, to increase resilience to climate change, to accelerate the shift towards a low carbon economy, to develop the digital economy and society and to strengthen sustainable connectivity in all its dimension;
6. support territorial cohesion and cross-border cooperation across land and maritime borders, including transnational and interregional cooperation.
Within the foregoing general and specific goals, there are five “windows” and their corresponding thematic priorities, which are set out in the III IPA Regulation and further detailed in the Commission Delegated Regulation 2021/2128 and Implementing Decision adopting the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III) Programming Framework for the period 2021-2027. IPA III assistance must provide synergy with, complement and be consistent with other EU internal and external policies and funding and operates within the EU’s overall enlargement policy framework.
Window 1:Rule of Law, Fundamental Rights and
1) Judiciary; 2) Fight against corruption; 3) Fight against organised crime/security; 4) Migration and border management; 5) Fundamental Rights; 6) Democracy; 7) Civil society.
Window 2 : Good governance, EU acquis alignment, good neighbourly relations and strategic communication
1) Good governance; 2) Administrative capacity and acquis alignment; 3) Good neighbourly relations and reconciliation; 4) Strategic communication, monitoring, evaluation and communication activities.
Window 3:Green agenda and sustainable connectivity
1) Environment and climate change; 2) Transport, digital economy and society, and energy.
Window 4:Competitiveness and inclusive growth
1) Education, employment, social protection and inclusion policies, and health; 2) Private sector development, trade, research and innovation; 3) Agriculture and rural development; 4) Fisheries.
Window 5:Territorial and cross-border cooperation (grouped in four thematic clusters corresponding with thematic priorities set out in IPA III Regulation, Annex III)
1) Improved employment opportunities and social rights; 2) Greener and improved resource efficiency; Improved public infrastructures / connectivity (transport, digital, energy, waste and water; 3) Improved business environment and competitiveness; 4) Improved capacity of local and regional authorities to tackle local challenges.
The foregoing IPA III windows and thematic priorities are reflective of the sector approach principle and reinforce the need for public administration reform, including public finance management, with an eye of strengthening the overall administrative capacity of the IPA III beneficiary to implement the necessary reforms identified in the enlargement process. This would require increase coherence between national strategies, sector policies, resource allocation and spending practices.
The institutional requirements for IPA III are not set out in the IPA III Regulation, but rather in the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/2236 of 15 December 2021 on the specific rules for implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1529 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III) – Implementing Regulation, as well as in a model Financial Framework Partnership Agreement between the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the arrangements for the implementation of Union financial assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III).