Official Journal of the European Union

CE 184/1

Wednesday 22 April 2009
Control of the budgetary implementation of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance


European Parliament resolution of 22 April 2009 on control of the budgetary implementation of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) in 2007 (2008/2206(INI))

2010/C 184 E/01

The European Parliament,

having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) (1),

having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 718/2007 of 12 June 2007 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 establishing an instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA) (2),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 8 November 2006 on the IPA Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework for 2008-2010 (COM(2006)0672),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 6 November 2007 on the IPA Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework for 2009-2011(COM(2007)0689),

having regard to the Commission’s 2007 Annual IPA Report of 15 December 2008 (COM(2008)0850 and SEC(2008)3026),

having regard to the Commission Communication of 5 November 2008 on Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2008-2009 and the accompanying 2008 Country Progress Reports (COM(2008)0674 accompanied by SEC(2008)2692 to SEC(2008)2699),

having regard to the Commission report of 22 July 2008 entitled ‘Protection of the Communities’ financial interests – Fight against fraud – Annual report 2007’ (COM(2008)0475, including SEC(2008)2300),

having regard to the Commission’s annual report of 27 October 2008 on the Instrument for Structural Policy for Pre-accession (ISPA) 2007 (COM(2008)0671 and SEC(2008)2681),

having regard to the Commission’s 2007 annual report of 22 December 2008 on PHARE, Turkey Pre-Accession, CARDS and Transition Facility (COM(2008)0880 and SEC(2008)3075),

having regard to the European Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Agency for Reconstruction for the financial year 2007, together with the Agency’s replies (3),

having regard to the European Court of Auditors’ special report No 5/2007 on the Commission’s management of the CARDS programme, together with the Commission’s replies (4),

having regard to the 2007 Annual Activity Report of the Commission’s Director-General for Enlargement (5),

having regard to its previous resolutions on enlargement and, in particular, its resolution of 10 July 2008 on the Commission’s 2007 enlargement strategy paper (6),

having regard to its resolution of 10 April 2008 on Croatia’s 2007 progress report (7),

having regard to its resolution of 23 April 2008 on the 2007 Progress Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (8),

having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2008 on Turkey’s 2007 progress report (9),

having regard to its resolution of 13 January 2009 on Trade and Economic relations with the Western Balkans (10),

having regard to its resolution of 4 December 2008 on the situation of women in the Balkans (11),

having regard to the visit of a fact-finding delegation of its Committee on Budgetary Control to Kosovo (12) from 22 to 25 June 2008, and to the relevant mission report (13),

having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (14), and in particular Article 53 thereof, and to its implementing rules,

having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A6-0181/2009),


whereas the IPA is the new financial instrument that replaces the instruments and programmes for candidate and potential candidate countries, namely Phare, SAPARD, ISPA, pre-accession financial assistance for Turkey, and CARDS, and aims to streamline EU funds in a flexible way so as to tailor them to the specific needs and management capacity of those countries,


whereas the IPA consists of the following five components covering priorities defined according to the needs of the beneficiary countries, namely:


Transition Assistance and Institution Building,


Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC),


Regional Development,


Human Resources Development,


Rural Development,


whereas the IPA is a key factor for improving the quality of life of citizens, social standards, infrastructure and regional and cross-border cooperation, and for promoting respect for human rights in candidate and potential candidate countries,


whereas the purpose of parliamentary control over the implementation of the budget in the area of enlargement policy is not only to ensure that EU funds have been used in accordance with the governing provisions and with the policies of the EU, but also to assess whether they have been effectively allocated to the priorities identified in the strategy and progress reports for the beneficiary countries and whether they have achieved the desired results in view of common EU interests,


whereas it is vital to examine the implementation of the IPA rigorously and at an early stage so as to avoid the problems that were identified belatedly in the implementation of previous pre-accession instruments, bearing in mind that irregularities not taken into consideration in due time will multiply and that it will be very difficult to deal with them later as they will assume the form of permanent malpractices,


whereas the fight against corruption and the sectoral reforms (in the judicial, police and public administration sectors) have a bearing not only on good governance and the rule of law but also on the general business climate,


whereas the IPA, notably through the review of Multi-Annual Indicative Planning Documents (MIPDs), offers considerable flexibility allowing for adaptation to the evolving needs and managing capacity of the beneficiary countries,


whereas, under Article 27 of Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 (‘the IPA Regulation’), the Commission is obliged to submit to the European Parliament and the Council, by 31 December 2010, a mid-term evaluation report on the implementation of the IPA, accompanied if appropriate by a legislative proposal to amend that Regulation,


whereas, further to Parliament’s request, the Commission has undertaken to carry out already in 2009 a mid-term review of the package of external aid instruments, including the IPA,


whereas Parliament should, from now on, communicate with the national parliaments of the beneficiary countries under the IPA,

General remarks


Welcomes the structured dialogue established with the Commission on the implementation of the IPA, and recalls its position in this respect, notably the need to grant all beneficiary countries equal access to the full range of policy tools available under the instrument, to give adequate priority to the fight against corruption and organised crime and to pay increased attention to institutional capacity-building, particularly at parliamentary level, the development of civil society organisations, measures to promote the principle of tolerance and non-discrimination, human development and regional cooperation in key policy areas;


Is pleased by the high rate of implementation of IPA commitments in 2007; regrets, however, that the first IPA programmes were only adopted at the end of 2007 and that the actual implementation started only in 2008, due in part to the late adoption of the new instrument and in part to delays on the part of beneficiary countries in setting up the requisite structures and management systems; urges the Commission to push ahead with the implementation of projects and to monitor the allocation of funds and the results obtained so as to ensure that the IPA has a visible impact in the countries concerned;


Notes that, due to the late adoption of the IPA Regulation and of Regulation (EC) No 718/2007 (‘the IPA Implementing Regulation’), and subsequently of the first Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework and the MIPDs, the monitoring, evaluation and reporting on 2007 IPA programmes and projects was limited and has not yet yielded results; stresses that the smooth transition from previous pre-accession instruments to the IPA requires continuity in programming, adequate implementation of projects and execution of payments;


Considers that there was satisfactory coherence between the 2007 IPA national programmes and the EU pre-accession policy, as most of the objectives set out in the programmes were in line with the priorities identified in the respective Commission progress reports;


Notes that the main focus for the candidate countries lies in the implementation of European standards, namely statistical, environmental and fiscal standards, which is consistent with the EU’s enlargement policy; points out however that the importance of the political criteria, notably democratic governance, respect for human rights, freedom of religion, women’s rights, minorities’ rights and the rule of law, should not be undermined, since their non-fulfilment can lead to complications and delay in negotiations; considers that there should be a better balance between projects earmarked for meeting the political criteria and projects earmarked for the implementation of the acquis;


Reminds the Commission that the Union’s legitimacy and capacity to promote reforms can be greatly enhanced if the IPA targets its assistance to areas of direct benefit for the citizens of the candidate and potential candidate countries, particularly in view of the needs and challenges generated by the global financial crisis;


Is consequently of the opinion that the IPA should support the efforts by the beneficiary countries to meet the requirements laid down in the roadmap for visa liberalisation, so that the citizens of the Western Balkans can finally enjoy freedom of movement and participate fully in EU programmes and schemes; welcomes the Commission’s intention to further increase the allocation of IPA funds to the Tempus, Erasmus Mundus and Youth in Action programmes;


Takes note of the fact that the Commission was in a position to give accreditation for decentralised management to Croatia for Components I to IV and to Turkey for Components I and II towards the end of 2008; encourages the Commission to continue to work intensively with candidate and potential candidate countries so that those countries become able in the near future to manage funds in a decentralised manner and thus get full access to all IPA components; points out, however, that the conferral of management powers is conditional and subject to their effective exercise;


Emphasises that the use of the IPA is a shared responsibility between the Commission and the national governments of the candidate and potential candidate countries; calls on the Commission to improve the cooperation and communication between its delegations and the respective authorities, to establish permanent control over the project implementation procedures and to work towards common measures for improving the administrative capacity of beneficiary countries;


Stresses the need for transparent and effective IPA management and control, taking into account the specificities of each country’s internal audit and control systems as well as best practices in the pre-accession procedures of former candidate countries;


Expects the Commission to report every year to Parliament and its responsible Committee on Budgetary Control on payments and implementation of IPA funds, as well as on the remaining funds from ISPA, IPARD and SAPARD, giving details for every recipient country and examples of best practice, and reporting on all problems or irregularities encountered;


Notes that horizontal issues, such as environmental impact assessment, good governance, civil society involvement, equal opportunities and non-discrimination, are not sufficiently present and visible in the 2007 IPA projects; invites the Commission to develop, in particular, multi-beneficiary regional or horizontal programmes, notably on the fight against corruption and organised crime, intercultural dialogue and gender equality;


Notes that limited funds are allocated for large geographic areas or comprehensive policy areas and that these funds are fragmented into many small projects rather than concentrated in fewer, more visible projects; points out that the annual national programmes should strike a balance between providing an adequate response to the key priorities identified in the progress reports and avoiding over-fragmentation of the funds;

Policy and country-specific observations


Highlights the need, as a matter of the utmost importance and urgency, to use the IPA to strengthen in all beneficiary countries the fight against corruption and organised crime with a special focus on money laundering, illegal migration and human trafficking; notes that, although all 2008 progress reports identified corruption as a serious problem and a key priority, not all 2007 IPA programmes take corruption sufficiently into account; suggests that funds should be earmarked for this purpose, as in the cases of Croatia (15) and Montenegro (16), and calls on the Commission to develop a more coherent strategy in this context, building upon the lessons learnt from the last enlargement rounds;


Notes that civil society organisations (CSOs) in the beneficiary countries should be more actively involved in the development and initiation of projects; points out that future IPA programmes should tackle the systematic donor dependency of CSOs, so as to avoid the existence of CSOs ‘on demand’, and should also address the development of some of the CSOs along ethno-political conflict lines, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo (17); expects the new Civil Society Facility to tackle many of the problems with regard to the diversity, complexity and fragmentation of EU programmes;


Insists that constant support for CSOs in candidate and potential candidate countries is needed in order to create a competitive environment among them and to ensure sustainability in their work for results-oriented IPA implementation and continued activeness in project management;


Notes that IPA-funded projects and activities score low in terms of EU visibility ‘on the ground’ and have not generated ‘bottom-up’ legitimacy for further EU rapprochement;


Considers that education and youth employment as preconditions for long-term stability and development have not been adequately addressed; highlights the need to combat unemployment, especially youth and long-term unemployment, as a cross-cutting issue of great importance; suggests in this regard that the Commission should examine the possibility of making greater use of the flexibility provided for in the IPA so as to allow funding, where appropriate, of measures related to components III to V through the first two components;


Notes that regional financial support under the IPA is relatively small in size (approximately 10 % of the total IPA), given in particular that it covers eleven intervention areas in six countries, from education and youth to nuclear safety;


Is concerned that the total 2007 IPA allocations for Component II amounted to only EUR 38 800 000 out of a total IPA of EUR 497 200 000 (that is, less than 8 %); points out that this contradicts the Commission’s assertion that cross-border cooperation helps reconciliation and good neighbourly relations and is particularly relevant in a region with a recent history of conflict; regrets that effective cooperation has been difficult to establish, in practice, for a number of reasons, including mismatches of structures and procedures between some partners, as well as political difficulties; calls on the beneficiary countries and the Commission, under this component, to pursue further existing cooperation and to develop new cooperation, in line with the objective of fostering good neighbourly relations and promoting economic integration, especially in the fields of the environment, the natural and cultural heritage and the fight against corruption and organised crime;


Is also concerned that no 2007 IPA programme submitted by the beneficiary countries directly addressed women’s rights or gender equality, although gender issues have been identified as a major challenge both in progress reports and MIPDs; once again calls on the Commission to provide pre-accession funds for strengthening women’s rights in the Balkans, in particular through women’s NGOs and women’s organisations; invites the Commission to earmark IPA funds accordingly, so as to promote gender budgeting in pre-accession policy and to encourage the beneficiary countries to submit relevant project proposals;


Emphasises the need to involve more and more non-governmental organisations in the design and implementation of IPA-funded projects so as to ensure that IPA assistance reflects real needs and expectations, to contribute to a greater visibility of IPA projects and to promote the development of a lively and proactive civil society in the beneficiary countries;


Invites the European Court of Auditors to submit by the end of 2010 a mid-term special evaluation report on the implementation of the IPA;


* *


Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European Court of Auditors, as well as to the governments, parliaments and national audit institutions of the beneficiary countries under the IPA.

(1)  OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 82.

(2)  OJ L 170, 29.6.2007, p. 1.

(3)  OJ C 311, 5.12.2008, p. 42.

(4)  OJ C 285, 27.11.2007, p. 1.

(5)  31.3.2008, http://ec.europa.eu/atwork/synthesis/aar/doc/elarg_aar.pdf.

(6)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0363.

(7)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0120.

(8)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0172.

(9)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0224.

(10)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2009)0005.

(11)  Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0582.

(12)  Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244(1999).

(13)  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/publicationsCom.do?language=EN&body=CONT.

(14)  OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.

(15)  Project 2007/019-247: Improving Anti-Corruption Inter-Agency Cooperation, a EUR 2 500 000 project for strengthening the coordination body within the Ministry of Justice in charge of anti-corruption strategy and raising public awareness of corruption issues.

(16)  Project 2007/19300: Fight against organised crime and corruption. This project aims to combat organised crime and corruption by improving the performance and cooperation of the various law enforcement agencies involved. It is linked to the wider Government Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan. EUR 3 000 000 have been earmarked for this project.

(17)  Under UN Security Council Resolution 1244(1999).