Rome, November 18, 2017 - 22.16
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You are in: Home English Version > RGS Communicates > Twinnings


The European Commission, in order to assist the Candidate Countries in their preparations for joining the European Union, has introduced the administrative Twinning Program to promote not only the full acquisition and implementation of the acquis communautaire, that is the body of laws and practices of the European Union, by the Candidate Countries, but also to strengthen all the structures, systems, human resources and management skills that are necessary for the implementation of such laws, in addition of being essential for the implementation of Community policies.

The Phare Twinning Projects involve the secondment of selected public officials from the Ministry of a Member State to the corresponding Ministry of a Candidate Country who will provide assistance in specific sectors of the project. Financial support is guaranteed by specific Community funds and the Program requires that some of the above-mentioned officials, the Pre-Accession Advisors, permanently reside in the Candidate Country for the entire duration of the project.

The Candidate Countries draw up the projects that have to be evaluated and approved by the Commission. The Phare Committee sends them to the National Contact Points of the Member States and they will be allowed to submit only one proposal for each project. In case different Ministries of the same Country should draw up competing proposals, the Contact Point will have the responsibility of coordinating the development of a joint proposal or will decide which proposal will be transmitted to the adjudicating commission.

The Candidate Country has the right to decide which Member State will be awarded the project and, if it finds it more convenient, may invite the Member States that have submitted a proposal for the same project to combine their proposals into one single project, if this has not already been done in occasion of the project presentations. In this case, one Member State will have global responsibility of the project and will appoint the project leader, who is the person that is responsible for the implementation of the project. The other Countries, on the other hand, will participate as junior partners and will be responsible for specific sectors of the project.

The agreements for the single Twinnings take the form of Twinning Covenants that are directly negotiated between the "twin" countries, the Member State and the Candidate Country (which is "sovereign" in choosing its partner), while the Commission's role is to guarantee the transparency of selection criteria through its local Delegation and to ratify the Covenant in which the two parties take upon themselves the commitment to achieve the agreed expected results through a detailed work program.

The Twinning Covenant parties commit themselves to achieve a result (therefore, they commit themselves to implement a segment of the acquis) that is broken down in a set of specific guaranteed results and periodic benchmarks that allow the Commission to closely monitor the project. The European Commission allocates a budget for each project to cover all the expenses associated with its implementation.

The logic behind the introduction of the Twinning Program by the Commission is that direct in-field interventions by Member States officials and experts who already have a personal and significant experience of the implementation of Community laws are considered to be essential to promote the reform (and at times the development) of the administrative structures of the CEECs (Central and Eastern European Countries) and to help them establish a framework for building institutions that are consistent with European standards and, most of all, that will allow them to adopt and apply the acquis communautaire. Furthermore, the Twinning initiatives are, both for the Candidate Countries and for the Member States, a useful tool to strengthen bilateral relationships through the direct contacts that regularly occur between their respective Ministries.

Two documents provide the legal base of the projects:

  • the Framework Agreement between the Commission and each Member State, that sets out the base terms and conditions for all Twinnings;
  • the Twinning Covenant between the Candidate Country and the Member State that defines the contents, the objectives, the responsibilities of the parties and the budget of the project.

The Twinning process involves different phases. First, as already mentioned, the Twinning projects are assigned according to the decisions of the beneficiary Countries. Each country evaluates its needs focusing on the priorities areas for action established in the Accession Partnership. A specific Committee of the Commission selects the requests and assigns a global funding to each Country and, only in a later stage, the funding will be allocated to the different projects. Once this phase is completed, each Candidate Country outlines its Twinning assistance requests in specific Project Fiches that are distributed to the Member States by the National Contact Points. At this point, the Ministries of the Member States that are interested in the project, submit a proposal that will be formally illustrated during a series of meetings that will be held in the Candidate Country, who will then choose the proposal which best responds to its needs. After the choice is made, the "twin" Ministries begin a negotiation phase to prepare the Twinning Covenant that will be submitted to the Commission for final approval and budget allocation. The project starts with the secondment of the Pre-Accession Advisor to the corresponding Ministry of the Candidate Country.

The Twinning Resident Advisor is an expert, a civil servant from a Ministry of a Member State, who works and resides full-time in the Candidate Country for at least a year; on the operational level, he/she is the most important element of the project. The Advisor must have experience in the organization of the practical application of the acquis communautaire and the Member State will assign him/her to the project for a one to three year period. The Advisor is seconded to the Ministry of the Candidate Country and has the duty to coordinate all the phases and activities of the project, provide direct assistance to the Ministry and organize the participation of the experts that are involved in the missions.

From the financial point of view, the Twinning Projects are co-financed by the European Community Phare Program and by national resources of the Candidate Countries. National co-financing usually covers offices, meeting rooms, equipment expenses and the expenses for the assistants that are assigned to the Pre-Accession Advisors.