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Summaries of EU Legislation

Partnership for the accession of Estonia

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Partnership for the accession of Estonia

The aim of the Accession Partnership is to assist the authorities in the candidate country in their efforts to comply with the accession criteria. It covers in detail the priorities for accession preparations, in particular implementing the acquis, and forms the basis for programming pre-accession assistance from Community funds such as the Phare programme. Following the signing of the Accession Treaty on 16 April 2003 and the official integration of the country into the European Union on 1 May 2004, the accession partnership has come to an end.

In its communication " Agenda 2000 ", the European Commission has set out a range of proposals for strengthening the pre-accession strategy for all the candidate countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The general objective of this strategy is to offer a coherent programme for preparing these countries for membership of the European Union, and more particularly:

  • to bring together the various forms of aid offered by the European Union within a single framework, the accession partnerships;
  • to familiarise applicants with the European Union's procedures and policies by offering them the opportunity to participate in Community programmes.


The objective of the partnership for accession (adopted in March 1998 and amended in December 1999 and in January 2002) is to enshrine in law the priorities for work set out in the Commission's Opinion on Estonia's application for membership, the financial resources available to help Estonia implement these priorities and the conditions attached to this aid. The partnership underpins a range of policy instruments to support candidate countries as they prepare for membership.

These include a national programme for the adoption of the acquis (NPAA) (revised in May 2002), the joint assessment of medium-term economic policy priorities, the pact against organised crime as well as the National Development Plan and other sectoral programmes necessary for the participation in the Structural Funds after membership and for the implementation of ISPA and SAPARD before accession. In 2002, the partnership for accession served as the starting point for preparing an action plan to reinforce the administrative and judicial capacity of Estonia.

These instruments will not be an integral part of the partnership, but their priorities must be compatible with it.

The implementation of the partnership for accession will be monitored under the Europe Agreement between the European Union and Estonia.


These have been divided into two groups: short- and-medium term. The priorities in the first group are those that Estonia was likely to achieve or make progress on or get under way during 2000. Those in the second group must be settled by the end of 2003.

Estonia has partly achieved the economic and political criteria priorities. Most of the priorities relating to the ability to assume the obligations arising from accession have been partly achieved. The financial control priorities have been fully achieved.

The priorities of the accession partnership were reviewed in December 1999 (see page 3 of the Annex to Decision 1999/855/EC). A final revision was published in February 2002 (Decision 2002/86/EC). This provides the basis for the 2002 Commission report.

The priority areas are:

(for up-to-date information on this subject, please refer to the Adoption of the Community acquis section)



Estonia's total Phare allocation for 2000 was EUR 24 million. A further EUR 3 million was allocated for investment in infrastructure, water quality improvement and a support mechanism for microprojects in the Baltic Sea region. Phare 2001 granted EUR 26.3 million to Estonia. An additional EUR 3 million was designated to cross-border cooperation programmes. The 2002 Phare programme for Estonia made provision for EUR 21 million, plus EUR 9.4 million under the additional facility specified by the programme to strengthen the country's institutions. For the cross-border cooperation programme with the Baltic countries, a sum of EUR 3 million was also allocated to Estonia.

The authorities of the partner country assume responsibility for aid contracts and payments. However, the Financial Regulation of the European Communities requires the Commission to oversee contract-award procedures and to approve any Phare-financed contract concluded by the partner country before it takes effect.

Pre-accession aid

Financial aid for agriculture and rural development (SAPARD) and a structural instrument (ISPA) which puts priority on transport and environment measures were introduced in 2000. The Regulation coordinating Phare, SAPARD and ISPA aid, which was adopted in June 1999, enables the Commission to carry out ex-post monitoring of contracts when it considers that the partner country's financial controls are inadequate.

The annual financial aid for Estonia available for 2000-02 totalled EUR 30 million for the Phare programme, EUR 12.1 million for SAPARD and approximately EUR 35 million for the ISPA programme.

In 2002, the indicative envelope for implementing SAPARD was EUR 12.7 million and that for ISPA for the same period was between EUR 21.2 and 37.1 million.


Decision 98/264/EC of 30 March 1998Official Journal L 121 of 23.04.1998

Decision 1999/855/EC of 6 December 1999Official Journal L 335 of 28.12.1999

Commission Opinion COM(97) 2006 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(98) 705 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(1999) 504 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2000) 704 finalNot published in the Official Journal

Commission Report COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1747Not published in the Official Journal

Decision 2002/86/EC of 28 January 2002Official Journal L 44 of 14.02.2002

Commission Report COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1403Not published in the Official Journal

Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236, 23.09.2003]

Last updated: 19.11.2004