Twinning is an initiative of the European Commission that was launched in 1998 in the context of the preparation for enlargement of the European Union. It was conceived as an instrument for targeted administrative co-operation to assist the pro tempore Candidate Countries to strengthen their administrative and judicial capacity to implement EU legislation as future Member States of the European Union. It has remained an important pre-accession instrument which is now available for all the candidate countries and pre-candidates benefitting from the Instrument of pre-accession (IPA): Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. As from the end of 2003, Twinning has been available to some of the countries covered by the programme for Newly Independent States were Partnership and Cooperation Agreements are signed between the Newly Independent States and the EU.

The extension of the Twinning instrument to other regions coincided with the emergence of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Developed in view of the EU enlargement of May 2004, the ENP sets a framework for the EU relations with its Eastern and Southern neighbours. The overall goal of the ENP is to foster the political and economic reform process, promote closer economic integration, legal and technical approximation and sustainable development. To support its implementation, the ENP will be complemented by a new regulation that entered into force in 2007 - the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).

Firstly, Twinning projects are built around jointly agreed EU policy objectives, such as the preparation of EU enlargement or enhanced co-operation in line with EU policies, as foreseen under the respective IPA and ENPI regulations. Twinning is an EU institution building instrument developed by the Commission and based on partnership cooperation between public administrations of EU Member States and a Beneficiary Country for the achievement of mandatory results jointly agreed with the Commission.

Some special procedures are necessary to take account of the particular nature of Twinning and to ensure sound financial management. The absence of commercial tendering and the selection of the MS project partner by or with the systematic involvement of the beneficiary administration make it necessary to find other means of controlling the costs which may legitimately be borne by the programme. These procedures express the specific nature of Twinning projects.

Twinning projects encompass a series of actions and inputs. Secondments of long-term MS experts to BC administrations form the ‘backbone’ of Twinning projects (See 2.2.2). To achieve its objectives, a Twinning project also needs various other expert inputs, such as medium- and short-term specialists, training etc.

Following the completion of a Twinning project, the BC is expected to have achieved significant progress in the identified area of the project. In some cases, one Twinning project may not be sufficient to achieve this goal, and a series of additional actions (Twinning, Twinning light or other instruments of Institution Building) may be required to achieve full compliance with the relevant obligations. However, this in no sense diminishes the need for each individual project to have clearly defined goals and a precise, timed and budgeted work plan for their achievement.

Further Information:
Tel.:  +36 1 474 9695