Since its establishment, the European Union (EU) provides financial assistance to member states, candidate countries and third countries based on its founding treaties. Substantial amount of funds are provided in the form of grants or loans to the beneficiary countries through this assistance aiming to achieve EU's various objectives. The main aim of this financial assistance is to structurally prepare the candidate country to EU membership.
Therefore, the pre-accession assistance to be provided to candidate and potential candidate countries has the goal of converging the countries' existing legal and institutional infrastructure to EU standards and practices.
The European Union have been putting in place various pre-accession assistance programmes to prepare the candidate and potential candidate countries for membership or to minimize development disparities among regions.
Different programmes were implemented before 2007 that prepared the foundation for the current financial assistance programme, which is called IPA:
• PHARE1 (Coordinated Support for the Reconstructuring of Economics of Poland and Hungary),
• SAPARD2 (Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development), and
• ISPA3 (Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession-Katılım Öncesi Yapısal Politikalar İçin Destek Aracı) assumed important roles.
• CARDS (Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stability in the Balkans)
After the implementation of these programmes, the European Commission decided that the framework of financial assistance provided to candidate and potential candidate countries should be regulated under a new instrument for the period 2007–2013. Experience from the implementation of previous instruments for pre-accession assistance was taken into account in the preparation of this new financial instrument. In this scope, financial assistance through instruments such as PHARE, ISPA and SAPARD, which involved different implementation mechanisms, were consolidated into the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).
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 Council Regulation (EEC) No 3906/89 of 18 December 1989 on Economic Aid to the Republic of Hungary and the Polish People's Republic
 Council Regulation (EC) No 1268/1999 of 21 June 1999 on Community support for pre-accession measures for agriculture and rural development in the applicant countries of central and eastern Europe in the pre- accession period
 Council Regulation (EC) No 1267/1999 of 21 June 1999 establishing an Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-accession
EU created a new financial assistance system in 2007 to provide efficient funding to candidate or potential candidate countries. This system is called IPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance). The first phase of this financial cooperation, which is an important element of Turkey and EU relations, was implemented in 2007-2013 period under the name IPA I.
The main goal of the assistance provided under IPA is to support the candidate and potential candidate countries in preparing to effectively manage and implement the Community's Cohesion Policy, to prepare them for the implementation of structural funds to be activated upon membership, and thus to support these countries in preparing for the European Union membership.
To this end, projects that serve the needs and priorities of the candidate country in EU accession path are supported under IPA. The funds allocated through the projects aim to ensure harmonization with the EU, and to build the administrative capacity necessary for this harmonization. Furthermore, the number of projects to ensure economic and social cohesion (regional development, agricultural and rural development, cross border cooperation and SME projects) gradually increase under financial assistance.
What is the most important difference IPA brings to assistance compared to the previous period?
The most important difference brought by IPA is that the funds are allocated to priorities and activity areas identified in the programmes to be prepared by the beneficiary countries. Funds have been disbursed according to these priorities and measures included in the Operational Programmes prepared in the scope of IPA I. A similar approach continues in IPA II period, and the allocated funds are aimed to be used based on the Actions (Priority) and Activities (Measure) included in the newly prepared Operational Programmes.
The IPA is implemented in 7-year periods.
IPA I PERIOD (2007-2013)
Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance -IPA financial aid in 2007–2013 period has been disbursed based on the programmes prepared by the beneficiary countries, according to the priorities again set by these countries.
In the first period, the EU financial assistance allocated to Turkey is used under the below-mentioned 5 components (Transition Assistance and Institution Building, Regional and Cross-border Cooperation, Regional Development, Human Resources Development, Rural Development) in line with our country's priority development goals.
The most important problem faced by both industrialized and developing countries is regional disparities. Regional Development, as one of the 5 policy areas identified for IPA 1, aims to create projects to reduce disparities among the regions of the candidate countries, enhance their competitiveness through supporting SMEs and businesses, and to strengthen the necessary infrastructures for this purpose. This objective coincides with Turkey's perspective. Just as the EU, Turkey attaches great importance to regional development and thus provides financial assistance to numerous projects through Regional Competitiveness, Environment and Transport Operational Programmes under the Regional Development component.
Different institutions have been designated to develop and implement programmes for these priorities in our country. In this scope,
• The Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology prepared and implemented the Competitive Sectors Programme, technically called the Regional Competitiveness Operational Programme;
• The Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation prepared and implemented the Environment Operational Programme;
• The Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications prepared and implemented the Transport Operational Programme;
• The Ministry of Labour and Social Security prepared and implemented the Human Resources Development Operational Programme;
• The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock prepared and implemented the Rural Development Operational Programme
Transition Assistance and Institutional Building programme is executed by the Ministry for EU Affairs.
IPA II PERIOD (2014 – 2020)
Implemented under a single umbrella, IPA financial assistance for 2014-2020 period will again be utilized according to the country priorities and programmes based on these priorities.
In the new period, it is aimed to monitor the result indicators rather than input and output indicators of the programmes in order for the EU funds to enhance socio-economic development and create more permanent impacts. In this framework, a result oriented monitoring approach has been adopted for 2014-2020 period.
Furthermore, the goal in IPA II period is to align national policies with EU policies through a sectoral programming approach. Accordingly, just as in IPA I, 5 policy areas have been identified for the management of funds in 2014-2020 programming period:
• Reforms in preparation for Union membership and Capacity Building
• Regional Development
• Employment, Social Policies and Human Resources Development
• Agriculture and Rural Development
• Regional and Territorial Cooperation
The priority sectors and the lead institutions as identified for IPA II period:
1. Democracy and Governance (Ministry for EU Affairs) (Alignment with EU acquis, Union Programmes and Civil Society)
2. Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior and Ministry for EU Affairs)
3. Transport (Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications)
4. Environment (Ministry of Environment and Urbanization)
5. Energy (Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources)
6. Competitiveness and Innovation (Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology)
7. Education, Employment and Social Policies (Ministry of Labor and Social Security)
8. Agriculture and Rural Development (Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock)
9. Territorial Cooperation (Ministry for EU Affairs)
In 2014-2020 period, our Ministry is responsible for the preparation and implementation of Competitiveness and Innovation Sector Operational Programme under the Regional Development Policy Area as a leading institution. In this scope, Competitiveness and Innovation Sector Operational Programme has been prepared by our Ministry receiving contributions also from the universities, development agencies, regional and local stakeholders and central authorities. This was accepted and approved by the European Commission in December 2014.
What is the role of the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology in the IPA system?
The "Operational Programmes" under IPA will be prepared, implemented, monitored and supervised by the Ministries. This structure is similar to the structural fund practices in the member states. Our Ministry assumed the role of being the Operating Structure responsible for preparing and implementing "the Regional Competitiveness Operational Programme" for 2007-2013 period, and Competitiveness and Innovation Sector Operational Programme" for the 2014-2020 period. "Competitive Sectors Programme" is the umbrella name covering both periods.