Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) is a new legal and financial instrument of the European Union, which replaced a series of EU pre-accession assistance programmes and financial instruments for candidate countries or potential candidate countries. The IPA is made up of five different components:
1. Assistance for transition and institution building;
2. Cross-border cooperation (with EU Member States and other countries eligible for IPA);
3. Regional development (transport, environment and economic development);
4. Human resources (strengthening human capital and combating exclusion);
5. Rural development.
The IPA beneficiary countries are divided into two categories:
• EU candidate countries (Croatia (until 1.7.2013), Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) are eligible for all five strands of IPA;
• Potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia including Kosovo) are eligible only for the first two strands.
The IPA prepares candidate countries to manage European funds covering the same areas: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Cohesion Fund, European Social Fund (ESF), European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
IPA is applicable to Candidate Countries and Potential Candidate Countries as well as to the Member States, which share a cross-border programme with those countries. This new instrument enables the participating countries at the external EU border to set up a joint programme, which is governed by a single set of rules, thus creating the basic conditions for developing genuine cross-border projects.
1 July 2013 the Republic of Croatia joined the European Union and became a Memember State. Consequently also the programme of cross-border cooperation between Slovenia and Croatia became a part of the programmes of the cohesion policy which as its third objective defines European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), which is oriented towards strengthening of cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation.
On European level 2,52 % or 7,75 billion euro of all cohesion funds have been assigned for European Territorial Cooperation (objective 3). Out of this, most funds, namely 73,86 % or 5.576 billion Euros from European Territorial Cooperation objective are assigned to cross-border cooperation, 20,95 % or 1.582 billion Euros to transnational and 5,19 % or 392 million Euros to interregional cooperation.
Regarding the scope of assistance, the European territorial cooperation objective of the 2007-2013 programming period focuses its assistance provided by the ERDF on three main cooperation fields:
• The development of cross-border economic, social and environmental activities through joint strategies for sustainable territorial development
• Strengthening of transnational cooperation through actions related to the Community priorities, and promoting integrated territorial development
• Reinforcement of effectiveness of regional policies by promoting inter-regional cooperation through exchange of experience at appropriate territorial level
The Operational Programme Slovenia-Croatia 2007-2013 is designed to promote cross-border cooperation between Republic of Slovenia and Republic of Croatia.