Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance

The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) is the main financial instrument of the European Union to assist beneficiary countries in progressive alignment with the standards and policies of the EU, including the acquis, aimed at accession to the EU. The IPA represents a comprehensive support to the process of European integration, through financial, technical and expert support to the reforms.

In 2006, in order to support candidate countries and potential candidate countries, the European Union brought together all the forms of support (CARDS, SAPARD, ISPA, PHARE, instrument for Turkey) into one Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA).

The IPA funds are intended primarily for the institutions to assume their obligations, but they are also available to other beneficiaries (non-governmental organisations, business community, border regions, local self-government units, agricultural holdings and other natural persons or legal entities).

IPA I (2007. - 2013.)

The IPA I was implemented within five components: 

The IPA I was implemented within five components:

- IPA component 1 – Assistance for transition and institution building

- IPA component 2 – Cross-border cooperation

- IPA component 3 – Regional development

- IPA component 4 – Human resources development

- IPA component 5 – Agriculture and Rural development

As a potential candidate for EU membership, BiH could benefit from the first two components (Assistance in institution building and Cross-border cooperation) within the IPA I (2007 - 2013), while the remaining three components were available only to the candidate countries, with a decentralised implementation system (DIS) in place, accredited by the European Commission.

IPA had a total amount of EUR 11.5 billion over the 2007 - 2013 period.

IPA III (2021 – 2027)

The IPA III is the third generation of the EU pre-accession assistance instruments to the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey. The budget amounts to EUR 14.2 billion for the seven-year period (2021-2027). With this instrument, the EU continues to financially support legal, economic and social reforms in candidate and potential candidate countries, enabling them to meet the criteria for the EU membership. 

+ More about IPA III

IPA II (2014 – 2020) 

For the period 2014 - 2020, the European Commission made certain revisions and introduced the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance IPA II.

The IPA II is implemented in five policy areas:

- 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.

Financial assistance is available to beneficiary countries, with the budget of EUR 11.7 billion for the period 2014 - 2020, in all the policy areas, regardless whether the country has a status of a candidate or a potential candidate.

The European Commission regulations in force defined: management and control of the IPA II assistance, rules for programming and implementation of assistance, and rules for financial management.

The main difference in relation to the previous instrument for pre-accession assistance is introduction of a sector approach in planning of the use of funds, enabling a targeted assistance, ensuring efficiency, sustainability and focus on results. Sectors for IPA II support are jointly identified by the EU and the beneficiary countries, based on the set criteria.

Criteria for sector maturity evaluation are as follows:

- Well defined government sector policies / strategies;

- Institutional setting, management and capacities for the sector strategy implementation;

- Sector and donor coordination;

- Medium term budgetary perspectives for the implementation of sector policies;

- Monitoring of the implementation of sector policies and evaluation of achievements;

- Public Financial Management (efficient, effective and transparent) and agreements on sector budget;

- Present and projected (planned) macroeconomic framework, within which sector policies would be implemented.

The mechanism of sector coordination is very important for successful management of sector approach, which includes coordination of government institutions and other stakeholders in the country, as well as coordination of donor partners.


In addition to a sector approach, the IPA II provides for:

- the use of additional funds (flexibility in allocation) if progress has been achieved in the process of European integration and the IPA II funds used;

- the use of the Sector Budget Support (SBS).


The sectors included in the Indicative Strategic Document (2014-2017) which benefit from the IPA II support are as follows:

- Democracy and governance

- Rule of law and fundamental rights

- Competitiveness and innovation: local development strategies

- Education, employment and social policies

In addition to the existing sectors, and the sector of Transport, which qualified for the IPA II support in 2016, the Revised Indicative Strategy Paper for Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2014 - 2020, included the new sectors:

- Agriculture and rural development

- Environment and energy


The main phases of the IPA II implementation are:

- strategic planning and programming

- preparation of the programme

- implementation

- monitoring, evaluation and reporting. 

I.        Strategic planning and programming

The backbone of strategic programming is:

- identifying country priorities and strategic sectors;

- formulating objectives and allocating funds;

- Modes of implementation.

II.        Planing programme documents

Indicative Strategy Paper (ISP) - Multi-annual strategy paper sets out the priorities and objectives of the EU financial assistance for the period 2014-2020. Indicative strategy paper is the point of reference for initiating the programming process. It has replaced the Multi-Annual Indicative Planning Document (MIPD), which was in use until 2013. 

The Sector Planning Document (SPD) – A multi-annual working document which serves to estimate the maturity of a sector for application of the sector approach. It identifies medium term priorities and sequences the IPA II assistance in the sector in the multi-annual perspective. The SPD contains the Road Map which summarises milestones for adjustment of the sector for application of the sector approach, as well as the necessary objectives and steps. The SPD lays foundation for the preparation of action documents.

The Action Documents (AD) - A document represents a constituent part of the annual programme package (Action Programme) of the beneficiary country. The document describes the context and the intervention in terms of a series of coordinated activities directed at achieving the priority sector objectives. The document relies on the intervention logic presented in the logical framework, and the accentuated measurement of the performance effectiveness.

III.        Implementation

Pursuant to the Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, there are three ways to implement the IPA:

Direct management - the European Commission is responsible for all the aspects of the EU budget implementation; it is implemented directly by the Commission either at headquarters or in the EU Delegations or through European implementing agencies.

Indirect management - the European Commission entrusts budget implementation tasks to the partner countries (or entities designated by them), international organisations, development agencies of the EU member states and to other bodies.

Shared management - shared management with beneficiary countries.

IV.        Monitoring, evaluation of the assistance and reporting

In the context of the IPA II, the monitoring is focused on the results achieved at the strategic, sector and action level (i.e. result based performance), with monitoring of the financial reporting.

Identification of the key indicators in the process of drafting planning and programme documents is of a particular importance for monitoring of the actions / projects.

Evaluation is an analysis of the efficiency and the direction of some activity, which includes evaluation of the progress and the impact of that activity. It is more comprehensive than monitoring and may include several IPA beneficiary countries. In the context of use of the IPA funds, evaluation is an independent assessment (analysis) of effectiveness, efficiency, impact, sustainability and relevance of the programme / project in a context of set objectives in order to draw conclusions that could be used as a basis for future decisions.

Pursuant to the European Commission Regulation No. 966/2012, the IPA II beneficiary countries are obliged to submit to the European Commission the report on implementation of IPA II funds in the previous year by 15 February of the current year at the latest.


Most of the assistance is channelled through national action programmes, which are the basis for addressing the specific needs in priority sectors in a country, as set out in indicative strategy papers.

National IPA programmes are implemented through the preparation of action documents (Action Packages) for each year. Bosnia and Herzegovina successfully completed programming of all the IPA II funds. The European Commission approved the IPA National Programmes until 2019 inclusive.

IPA II national programmes can be found here.

Indicative allocation from the IPA II for BiH, in the period 2014-2020, amounted to EUR 552.1 million.


In addition to individually supporting candidate and potential candidate countries for EU membership, the European Union provides financial and technical assistance with the aim of implementing joint (regional) priorities of IPA II beneficiary countries.

This support is provided from the Multi-country IPA Programme, which aims at enhancing regional cooperation and addressing the issues of general interest to all IPA beneficiaries.

The Multi-country IPA Programme is implemented jointly in all beneficiary countries instead of implementing projects individually in each country. Multi-country IPA programme beneficiaries are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

The Multi-Country Programme is prepared and implemented under direct management. The European Commission prepares, implements and monitors the implementation of multi-country IPA projects.

Multi-Country IPA programme can be found here.


In order to establish the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II), as well as to define the objectives, specific rules, general provisions and procedures for the implementation of this programme, the European Parliament and the European Commission have adopted a set of legal acts necessary for the programme implementation.

On 11 March 2014, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Regulation No 231/2014 establishing the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance 2014 - 2020 (IPA II). The regulation stipulates that the general objective of the IPA II is to support beneficiary countries in the process of adopting and implementing political, legal, administrative, social and economic reforms in order to comply with the EU rules and values.

The Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council No 236/2014 of 11 March 2014 defined the rules and procedure for the implementation of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for the period 2014 - 2020.

On 2 May 2014, the European Commission adopted the Implementing Regulation (IR) No. 447/2014, on the specific rules for implementing Regulation (EU) No 231/2014 of the European Parliament.

The Framework Agreement on IPA II between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Commission entered into force on 24 August 2015.

Document Preview
Financial framework partnership agreement between the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina on specific arrangements for implementation of Union financial assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina under the instrument for Pre-accession assistance (IPA III) Preview
IPA II Framework Agreement between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Commission Preview
Information on the new instrument of pre-accession assistance of the European Union for the period 2014-2020 (IPA II) Preview
Revised Indicative Strategic Document for Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2014-2020. Preview
Commission Implementing Regulation on IPA II Preview
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the IPA II Preview