Support for the programming of the instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance

Project description

Title: Support to IPA Programming, Trainings and Project Preparation – Project Preparation Facility (PPF7)
Commissioned by: Ministry of Finance – Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programmes (CFCU)
Financier: European Union (EU)
Country: Republic of Serbia
Partner: Louis Berger, EPCCO
Lead executing agency: Ministry of European Integration 
Overall term: 2017 to 2020


The all Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) II regulation came into force on 16 March 2014 and was applicable retroactively from January 2014. IPA’s specific objectives concern five key policy areas – all of which are applicable to Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) beneficiaries, regardless of the stage of their accession process:

  • Reforms in preparation for Union membership and related institution- and capacity-building; 
  • Socio-economic and regional development; 
  • Employment, social policies, education, promotion of gender equality, and human resources development; 
  • Agriculture and rural development; 
  • Regional and territorial cooperation.

The programming of assistance is undertaken jointly by the European Commission and the National IPA Coordinator, within the framework set by the Indicative Strategy Paper for Serbia for the period between 2014 and 2020. The National IPA Coordinator and his staff represent an interface between the European Commission services and the national ministries who are the actual beneficiaries of the projects. In the relevant sector institutions, IPA Units have been established, and the tasks of the staff includes preparation of project proposals in their sector areas and implementation of the approved projects at a later stage. This project aims to support the drafting of a planning document for the planning of development assistance to Serbia, as well as programming documentation for pre-accession assistance and the preparation of the Single Project Pipeline of the infrastructural projects with the overall aim to improve the country's absorption capacities.

In October 2015, DG NEAR sent a letter to the National IPA Coordinators (NIPAC) outlining very important elements to address in prioritising the utilisation of pre-accession assistance. In short, this communication outlined that:

  • IPA II Action Programmes should have focused on a limited number of sectors and available pre-accession assistance would have concentrated on them – the introduction of this principle of concentration implies that the IPA II funds allocation made in the Indicative Strategy Paper (ISP) is valid only if funding needs can be demonstrated against measurable results;
  • Indirect management is no longer the main or preferred implementation mode. This shift reflected the belief - also based on lessons learnt under IPA I – that there is little merit in introducing the enlargement countries to managing IPA funds involving relatively complex rules at too early a stage in the process towards membership;
  • A preliminary analysis of the Sector Programming Documents (SPDs) indicated that Sector Reforming Contracts (SRCs) could be considered as a possible tool to support the implementation of ongoing reforms oriented to accession and the Serbian institutions were invited to utilise this modality within the framework of the IPA II 2015 and 2016 AP and following ones.

From a more technical point of view, DG NEAR required IPA II planning (SPDs) and programming documents (ADs) to be increasingly based on measurable result indicators that could demonstrate the outcomes and impact of the pre-accession assistance.


Support to the planning and preparation of strategic and policy framework for pre-accession/accession assistance and the creation development of mature projects with a full set of project documentation in accordance with EU procedures for Programming and Procurement Rules has been strengthened.


The approach chosen for the implementation of this project is based on the EU Sector Approach with a more strategic development perspective than in previous programming support projects. The central tenant of this is a formulation of an overall document planning and coordinating foreign assistance. This is built on detailed sector analyses which form the foundation of both, the long-term strategic planning document of foreign assistance (NAD) and the programming of IPA funds for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020. The total allocation of IPA for these years is approximately €600 million Euros. 

Capacity building is based on a learning by doing approach with the Ministry of European Integration (MEI) and the various line Ministries involved in the programming process. To ensure the effective transfer of know-how, each sector specialist from MEI is paired with a sector expert from the TA team to provide daily support and build confidence with their counterparts in dealing with the programming workload. Special emphasis is put on the preparation of infrastructure projects where the team supports MEI in the development of project identification and prioritisation methods, as well as programming and detailed preparation of project documentation for two major infrastructure projects up to the completion of tender documentation.


Result 1: Assistance for the development of the strategic planning and programming documents related to EU assistance provided to NIPAC and relevant national institutions and / organisations 

  • Drafted document “Needs of the Republic of Serbia for International Assistance 2019-2025”
  • Prepared Action Documents and Sector Reform Contracts for IPA 2018, IPA 2019 and IPA 2020 (total value of prepared projects is around EUR 600 million);
  • Prepared different policy papers related to EU funds management;
  • Designed Capacity Building Programme;
  • Delivered different training modules and training for trainers programme. 

Result 2: Infrastructure projects intended for financing under IPA II, prepared in accordance with the Serbian legal requirements and EU standards and norms, and ready for implementation

  • Preparation of project technical documentation for two infrastructure projects in line with the Serbian Law on Planning and Construction and EU standards. 

Additional information