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Participation in Community programmes

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Participation in Community programmes

Participation in Community programmes is open to countries associated with the European Union, non-member European countries, candidate countries and potential candidate countries. It forms part of the move towards ever closer relations between the Union and these countries and familiarises them with policies and working methods while facilitating exchanges of experience and best practices. Its objective is to support the process of stabilisation and association of the Western Balkans countries in view of their European perspective.


Council Decisions of 2 June 2005 concerning the conclusion of a Framework Agreement between the European Community and the countries of the Western Balkans on the general principles for their participation in Community programmes:

  • Decision 2005/524/EC with the Republic of Albania;
  • Decision 2005/525/EC with Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Decision 2005/526/EC with the Republic of Croatia;
  • Decision 2005/527/EC with Serbia and Montenegro;
  • Decision 2005/528/EC with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia concerning the conclusion of a Protocol to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement on a Framework Agreement.


Participation of the associated countries in Community programmes is designed to enable them to familiarise themselves with the methods and policies of the European Union (EU). In the case of the countries of the Western Balkans, this forms part of their European perspective and, more specifically, of the Thessaloniki agenda adopted in 2003, which expressly provides for such participation as an instrument in the stabilisation and association process (SAP) and in the process of rapprochement with the EU, particularly as regards the adoption and implementation of the acquis.

Nature of participation in Community programmes under framework agreements and the procedure involved

The countries of the Western Balkans can notably take part in all the Community programmes that meet their specific needs and are in line with the objectives and priorities of the SAP. The current programmes in which they can participate are listed in the annex containing the framework agreements. The Western Balkan countries may also ask to participate in other programmes, whether these programmes already exist or need to be developed.

Representatives from the Western Balkan countries can be present as observers at meetings of the committees responsible for the programmes to which they are contributing financially.

For each programme, the Commission and each country decide the arrangements and conditions for participation, including the financial contribution to be made by the country to the EU's general budget. The financial contribution is based on the needs of each country. The countries can receive support for their financial contribution through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) or any other external aid for which they might be eligible.

Participation by the Western Balkan countries in Community programmes is regulated by framework agreements laying down the general principles governing each country's participation in the programmes. For countries that have concluded a stabilisation and association agreement (SAA), the framework agreement is annexed to the SAA as a protocol. These framework agreements are negotiated and concluded by the European Commission, acting on behalf of the European Community, and by each country.

The framework agreements are concluded for an unlimited period. However, they are reviewed every three years.


Following the adoption of the Thessaloniki agenda, the Commission submitted a communication on 3 December 2003 laying down the arrangements and guidelines for participation by the Western Balkan countries in Community programmes and agencies. It based itself on the experience already acquired regarding participation by the associated European countries (non-member European countries and candidate countries).

In particular, the Commission emphasises that a gradual and selective approach will be taken in choosing programmes and agencies, in order to assess participation in certain programmes and agencies before extending it to others, if necessary.

Participation is based on the needs and priorities of each country. Participation in very specific programmes concerning a particular sector is also possible. However, the countries concerned must have the necessary administrative and absorption capacities to enable them to fulfil their obligations.

In addition, the participating countries make a financial contribution to the financing of the programmes and agencies, thereby contributing to the general budget of the EU. In fact, most of the Community programmes consolidate the EU's internal policies, and their financing comes under internal budget headings, with the exception of programmes with an external component such as TEMPUS or LIFE, with which the Western Balkan countries are already associated. The associated countries' financial contribution is assessed on the basis of the numbers of their nationals who will be participating.

The Commission submits a tight schedule for implementation of the initial participation in 2005 in order to assess needs and improvements in light of the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective.

The Commission takes the same approach for the Community agencies as for the Community programmes. In this case, five agencies will initially cooperate with the SAP countries before participation is extended to other agencies: namely, the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the European Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2005/524/EC



OJ L 192 of 22.7.2005

Decision 2005/525/EC



OJ L 192 of 22.7.2005

Decision 2005/526/EC



OJ L 192 of 22.7.2005

Decision 2005/527/EC



OJ L 192 of 22.7.2005

Decision 2005/528/EC



OJ L 192 of 22.7.2005

Last updated: 31.08.2011