What is IPA?

IPA stands for Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance. The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance is the means by which the EU supports reforms in the 'enlargement countries' with financial and technical help. The IPA funds build up the capacities of the countries throughout the accession process, resulting in progressive, positive developments in the region. For the period 2007-2013 IPA had a budget of some € 11.5 billion; its successor, IPA II, will build on the results already achieved by dedicating € 11.7 billion for the period 2014-2020.

Current beneficiaries are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey.

EU pre-accession funds are a sound investment into the future of both the enlargement countries and the EU itself. They help the beneficiaries make political and economic reforms, preparing them for the rights and obligations that come with EU membership. Those reforms should provide their citizens with better opportunities and allow for development of standards equal to the ones that the EU citizens enjoy. The pre-accession funds also help the EU reach its own objectives regarding a sustainable economic recovery, energy supply, transport, the environment and climate change, etc.

What is IPA II?

IPA II is continuation of IPA (2007 – 2013). Prepared in partnership with the beneficiaries, IPA II sets a new framework for providing pre-accession assistance for the period 2014-2020.

The most important novelty of IPA II is its strategic focus. Country Strategy Papers are the specific strategic planning documents made for each beneficiary for the 7-year period. These will provide for a stronger ownership by the beneficiaries through integrating their own reform and development agendas. A Multi-Country Strategy Paper will address priorities for regional cooperation or territorial cooperation.

IPA II targets reforms within the framework of pre-defined sectors. These sectors cover areas closely linked to the enlargement strategy, such as democracy and governance, rule of law or growth and competitiveness. This sector approach promotes structural reform that will help transform a given sector and bring it up to EU standards. It allows a move towards a more targeted assistance, ensuring efficiency, sustainability and focus on results.

IPA II also allows for a more systematic use of sector budget support. Finally, it gives more weight to performance measurement: indicators agreed with the beneficiaries will help assess to what extent the expected results have been achieved.

More about IPA II: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/instruments/how-does-it-work/index_en.htm

How much is provided through the IPA funds?

The IPA came into effect at the start of 2007 and is to provide nearly €11.5 billion to candidate and potential candidate countries in the period 2007-2013.
Below is an indicative breakdown of the IPA allocations (In million EURO) for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by component:

IPA Component 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
I (Transition Support and
Institution Building)
41,641,613 41,122,001 39,328,499 36,317,068 28,803,410 28,207,479 27,941,228
II (Cross-Border Cooperation) 4,158,387 4,077,999 4,371,501 5,067,526 5,124,876 5,183,373 5,243,041
III (Regional Development) 7,400,000 12,300,000 20,800,000 29,400,000 39,300,000 42,300,000 51,800,000
IV (Human Resources Development) 3,200,000 6,000,000 7,100,000 8,400,000 8,800,000 10,380,000 11,200,000
V (Rural Development) 2,100,000 6,700,000 10,200,000 12,500,000 16,000,000 19,000,000 21,028,000
Total 58,500,000 70,200,000 81,800,000 91,684,594 98,028,286, 105,070,852 117,212,269

How much is provided through IPA II?

For the period 2007-2013 IPA had a budget of some € 11.5 billion; its successor, IPA II, will build on the results already achieved by dedicating € 11.7 billion for the period 2014-2020.

What will happen with IPA after the beginning of IPA II?

Implementation of IPA 2007-2013 is still underway.

IPA was designed to provide financial assistance through five channels (known as "components"): transition assistance and institution building, cross-border cooperation (CBC), regional development, human resource development and rural development.

How does the IPA work – what are the procedures?

The allocation criteria take into account each country's capacity to use and manage the funds, as well as its respect for the conditions of accession.

For countries that are more advanced in the process, a gradual decentralisation or allocation of fund management is possible. This makes the implementation of assistance more flexible.
Funding is allocated in line with a rolling three-year multi-annual indicative financial framework, linked with the enlargement policy framework, which provides information on the Commission's intentions by country and by component.

On this basis, multi-annual indicative planning documents are prepared for each country. An additional document is prepared for the multi-country programme. The documents contain the Commission's specific objectives and choices for pre-accession aid. They are revised and updated every year. Funding can be provided in various forms:

  • Investment in infrastructure, equipment or business development (e.g. through the procurement of contracts or award of subsidies)
  • Administrative cooperation, involving experts sent from EU Member States (e.g. through twinning)
  • Actions implemented directly by the EU bodies in the interest of the beneficiary country
  • Support for the implementation process and programme management
  • Budget support (granted only exceptionally)

Participation in the award of procurement or grant contracts is open to:

  • all nationals of a Member State
  • legal entities established in a Member State of the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA), or a country that is a beneficiary of the IPA or of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument
  • international organisations

Where can I find information on the IPA Calls for Proposals?

What is the Cross Border Cooperation Programme?

The Cross Border Cooperation Programme is part of the assistance (Component II) and supports cross-border cooperation activities between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and EU member states, as well as with a potential candidate country, i.e. Albania. It also helps the country to participate in the transnational 'South-East Europe' European Territorial Co-operation Programme.

CBC programmes are open with Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. For the individual programmees and examples you can read more on the following links:

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/the_former_yugoslav_republic_of_macedonia/ipa/cbc_cross_border_programme_en.pdf

http://www.sep.gov.mk/Default.aspx?ContentID=79

What is EIDHR?

It stands for the European Instrument for Democracy and Human rights. The European Union, through EIDHR, supports human rights defenders against repression and the arbitrary use of power, and aims to promote and support human rights and democracy worldwide. It also aims to reinforce their activities in documenting violations and supporting the United Nations Special Procedures.

The calls for proposals for the instrument can be found on following link:

http://www.eidhr.eu/whatis-eidhr

What is Erasmus +?

The Erasmus+ programme aims to boost skills and employability, as well as modernizing Education, Training, and Youth work. The seven year programme will have a budget of €14.7 billion; a 40% increase compared to current spending levels, reflecting the EU's commitment to investing in these areas.

Erasmus+ will support transnational partnerships among Education, Training, and Youth institutions and organisations to foster cooperation and bridge the worlds of Education and work in order to tackle the skills gaps we are facing in Europe.

It will also support national efforts to modernise Education, Training, and Youth systems. In the field of Sport, there will be support for grassroots projects and cross-border challenges such as combating match-fixing, doping, violence and racism.

More information: http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/index_en.htm

Are the citizens of our country are eligible for Erasmus +?

Yes. The National agency for European educational programmes and mobility is the national partner institution responsible for implementing and coordinating the activities related to the programme.

The contacts of the National Agency are:

address: Porta Bunjakovec A2-1, 1000 Skopje

phone: +389 2 3109 045

fax +389 2 3109 043

e-mail: info@na.org.mk

The programme guide for the Erasmus plus can be found on following link: http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/documents/erasmus-plus-programme-guide_en.pdf

How can I apply for an Erasmus MUNDUS scholarship?

Students must apply directly to the Erasmus Mundus Master's consortia offering the course of their choice (Check the list of available Erasmus Mundus Master's Courses on the Europa website). Although applicants can apply to any of the Master's Courses selected under the Erasmus Mundus programme, the number of applications must be limited to a maximum of three Erasmus Mundus Master's Courses.

The consortium informs interested students about specific admission conditions (e. g. study results, language skills, etc.) and application deadlines. Each course has specific application and admission conditions as well as application forms and deadlines.

Does the EU support individual farmers in our country?

Yes. Farmers are entitled to pre-accession financial aid for sustainable agriculture and rural development.

Beneficiaries:
Agricultural cooperatives and legal entities engaged in agricultural activities (SMEs) which meet minimum national standards relating to the activity they apply for, and which present increased economic sustainability at investment closure. The support refers to investments in the area of wine production (only in the finalisation part), fruit and vegetable processing, production of milk and milk products and slaughterhouses.

The diversification measure of economic activities in rural environments is open to individual farms and micro enterprises which meet minimum national standards relating to the activity they apply for, and which present increased economic sustainability at investment closure. The support refers to investments in the area of rural tourism, small farm-based processing capacities for traditional products, artisanship and services related to agriculture and the rural population.

The national institution responsible for the implementation of this IPA Rural Development fund is the Agency for Financial Support in Agriculture and Rural Development:

Where can I apply for funds for agriculture?

Documents should be submitted to the Agency for Financial Support in Agriculture and Rural Development:

Address:
  Blvd: "Treta Makedonska Brigada" 20 
Makedonija Tabak building, blok C 
1000 Skopje
Republic of Macedonia
Phone/Fax:   389 (0) 2 3097 460 / +389 (0) 2 3097 454
E-mail:   ipardpa.info@ipardpa.gov.mk

Does the EU support researchers in our country?

Absolutely! Researchers are supported through the new programme Horizon 2020.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with a simple structure that reduces red tape and time so participants can focus on what is really important. This approach makes sure new projects get off the ground quickly – and achieve results faster.

Can I expect guidance or assistance for Horizon 2020?

The potential applicants from our country can ask for information from the National contact points. The network of National Contact Points (NCPs) is the main structure to provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon 2020.

NCPs are national structures established and financed by governments of the 28 EU member states and the states associated to the framework programme. NCPs give personalised support on the spot and in applicants' own languages. The NCP systems can vary from one country to another from highly centralised to decentralised networks, and a number of very different actors, from ministries to universities, research centres and special agencies to private consulting companies.

National coordinator for Horizon 2020 is Ministry of education and science.

You can find the contacts of NCPs on the following link:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/support/national_contact_points.html#c,contact=country/sbg/Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of/1/1/0&function_details..function_abbr/sbg//1/1/0&+contact_name/asc

What about the Horizon 2020 application process?

Pre- application process:
More info: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/funding/index.html

The application process is consisted of 3 major steps.

If you wish to respond to a call, you must submit a proposal before the deadline. The Participant Portal has clear instructions to guide you through the process. The system is simpler than ever – no more paper! All proposals are submitted online.

1. Find your partners

Many calls require a team of at least three partners. If you need help to identify a potential partner with particular competences, facilities or experience, use the partner search options.

2. Evaluation by experts

Once the deadline has passed, all proposals are evaluated by a panel of independent specialists in their fields. The panel checks each proposal against a list of criteria to see if it should receive funding.

3. Grant agreement

Once a proposal passes the evaluation stage (five months’ duration), applicants are informed about the outcome. The European Commission then draws up a grant agreement with each participant. The grant agreement confirms what research & innovation activities will be undertaken, the project duration, budget, rates and costs, the European Commission's contribution, all rights and obligations and more. The time limit for signing the grant agreements is generally three months.

H2020 Online Manual

Does the EU support businesses in our country?

Is there a programme for schools?

Yes. The Comenius Programme focuses on all levels of school education, from pre-school and primary to secondary schools. It concerns everyone involved in school education: mainly pupils and teachers, but also local authorities, representatives of parents' associations, non-governmental organisations, teacher training institutes and universities.

The National Agency for European Educational Programmes and Mobility is the national partner institution for this programme.

Does the EU somehow provide support for adult education and training?

Yes. It is covered through the Leonardo da Vinci and Grundtvig programmes.

The Leonardo da Vinci programme funds practical projects in the field of vocational education and training. Initiatives range from those giving individuals work-related training abroad to large-scale co-operation efforts.

Part of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme, this programme funds many different types of activities of varying scale. These include 'mobility' initiatives enabling people to train in another country, co-operation projects to transfer or develop innovative practices, and networks focusing on topical themes in the sector.

The people able to benefit from the programme range from trainees in initial vocational training to people who have already graduated, as well as VET professionals and anyone from organisations active in this field.

The Grundtvig programme focuses on the teaching and study needs of learners taking adult education and 'alternative' education courses, as well as the organisations delivering these services. It aims to help develop the adult education sector, as well as enable more people to undertake learning experiences, notably in other European countries.

Launched in 2000, Grundtvig aims to provide adults with more ways to improve their knowledge and skills in order to facilitate their personal development and boost their employment prospects. It also helps to tackle problems associated with Europe's ageing population.

The Programme covers not only teachers, trainers, staff and organisations working in the sector, but also learners in adult education. These include relevant associations, counselling organisations, information services, policy-making bodies and others such as NGOs, enterprises, voluntary groups and research centres.

The programme funds a range of activities, especially including those that support adult learning staff to travel abroad for exchanges and various other professional experiences. Additional larger scale initiatives involve, for instance, networking and partnerships between organisations in different countries.

The National Agency for European Educational Programmes and Mobility is the national partner institution for this programme.

Can I volunteer in an EU country?

Yes, of course. The European Voluntary Service (EVS) provides young Europeans with a unique opportunity to express their personal commitment through unpaid and full-time voluntary activities in a foreign country inside or outside the EU. In this way, it seeks to develop solidarity, mutual understanding and tolerance among young people, thus contributing to reinforcing social cohesion in the European Union and to promoting young people's active citizenship.

The National Agency for European Educational Programmes and Mobility is the national partner institution for this programme.

Can I travel to the countries of the EU without a visa?

Yes. As of 19 December 2009, citizens of our country no longer need a visa to travel to 25 of the EU Member States and three non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen area.

Those citizens who hold a biometric passport can now travel freely for short-term trips of up to 90 days every six months to these countries, be it for business, study or tourism purposes.

How long can I stay in the Schengen area?

Travellers from our country can remain in the Schengen area (all EU Member States except the UK and Ireland, and the countries associated to the Schengen area: Switzerland, Norway and Iceland) for a maximum period of 90 days from the date of entry within a period of six months (180 days). The period starts when you enter the territory for the first time within a six month period.

For example, if you first enter the Schengen area on 1 February, the next six-month period starts on 1 August. If you travel to the Schengen area often, you are responsible for counting the number of days remaining in the six-month period. Hence, you may undertake several short-term trips, provided that their duration does not exceed 90 days in total within a six months period.

How can I calculate the number of days I can spend in the EU as a non-EU citizen?

If you don’t have a special permit that allows you a longer stay in the EU (subject to national conditions), you are then in the EU on what is considered a “short stay”. A clearer definition of a short stay of non-EU citizens in the Schengen area ("90 days in any 180 days period") is applicable from 18 October 2013. Since then a new method of calculation of short stays applies. The short-stay calculator can be used for calculating the period of allowed stay under the new rules.

You can find the short-stay calculator, as well as more information about the changes in this area on the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/index_en.htm

Does visa liberalisation mean I can live and work in Schengen countries?

No. The new rules apply to travel only. They do not grant the citizens the right to reside for more than three months or take up employment in the aforementioned countries.

If you intend to stay longer than three months, to take up employment or undertake studies exceeding 90 days, you must apply for a long-term visa, residence or working permit at the Embassy or Consulate of the destination country before you travel. Working or living in the Schengen area without the relevant national residence or working permit is illegal.

Are there any other requirements for entry into the Schengen area?

There are no extra financial or administrative requirements for biometric passport holders to fulfil in order to travel freely to the Schengen countries. However, the normal entry conditions for all third country nationals travelling to the Schengen area apply.

At the border, travellers may thus be asked to demonstrate the means of their travel and show means of subsistence during their stay in the Schengen area. Travellers can also be asked to specify the place where they will stay (e.g. to show a hotel reservation or address at which they will be staying). In addition, the persons must not be considered to be a threat to public order, public health or internal security and they must not be persons for whom an alert has been issued for the purpose of refusing entry.

The Member State border authorities have the right to refuse entry if these requirements are not met and have the final decision on entry (Article 5 of the Schengen Convention). A special procedure will apply at the border with Greece. The Greek authorities will not put entry or exit stamps in passports. Instead, the Greek authorities will proceed by stamping a separate sheet that will be given to the traveller.

What is EU Blue Card?

The EU Blue Card is Europe's answer to the US Green Card. The EU Blue Card Scheme is designed to make Europe a more attractive destination for highly educated persons from outside the European Union. All EU member states, except the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland, participate in the EU Blue Card scheme.

Conditions

In order to request the EU Blue Card, you are expected to meet these conditions:

  • You are a non-EU national
  • In possession of a higher education qualification
  • You have a valid work contract, or binding job offer, in the EU

For more info please visit:

http://www.apply.eu/

Can I work in the EU?

The freedom to move to another EU country to work without a work permit is a right for EU nationals.

Non-EU nationals may have the right to work in an EU country or to be treated equally with EU nationals as regards conditions of work. These rights depend on their status as family members of EU nationals and on their own nationality.

Nationals of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia who are working legally in the European Union, are entitled to the same working conditions as the nationals of their host country:

For more info please visit:

http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=470

Also see the question “What is EU Blue Card?” in this section.

Who can join the EU?

The Treaty on the European Union states that any European country may apply for membership if it respects the democratic values of the EU and is committed to promoting them.

Any aspirant country must first fulfil the key criteria for accession. These were defined by the European Council in Copenhagen in 1993 and are hence referred to as the 'Copenhagen criteria'. Countries wishing to join need to have:

  • Stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities
  • A functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces in the EU
  • The ability to take on and implement effectively the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union

The EU reserves the right to decide when aspirant countries can join. It also needs to be able to integrate new members.

What is the procedure for joining the EU?

The process of joining the EU (accession) broadly consists of 3 stages:

1. When a country is ready, it becomes an official candidate for membership – but this does not necessarily mean that formal negotiations have been opened.

2. The candidate moves on to formal membership negotiations, a process that involves the adoption of established EU law, the preparations necessary to properly apply and enforce it, and the implementation of judicial, administrative, economic and other reforms necessary for the country to meet the conditions for joining, known as the accession criteria.

3. When the negotiations and accompanying reforms have been completed to the satisfaction of both sides, the country can join the EU.

What are the membership negotiations in reality?

Membership negotiations cannot start until all EU governments agree, in the form of a unanimous decision by the EU Council, on a framework or mandate for negotiations with the candidate country.

Negotiations take place between ministers and ambassadors of the EU governments and the candidate country in what is known as an intergovernmental conference.

Negotiations under each chapter are based on the following elements:

1. Screening – the Commission carries out a detailed examination, together with the candidate country, of each policy field (chapter), to determine how well the country is prepared. The findings by chapter are presented by the Commission to the Member States in the form of a screening report. The conclusion of this report is in the form of a Commission recommendation to either open negotiations directly or to require that certain conditions – opening benchmarks - should be met first.

2. Negotiating positions – before negotiations can start, the candidate country must submit its position and the EU must adopt a common position. For most chapters, the EU will set closing benchmarks in this position which need to be met by the Candidate Country before negotiations in the policy field concerned can be closed. For chapters 23 and 24, the Commission is proposing that in future these chapters be opened on the basis of action plans, with interim benchmarks to be met based on their implementation before closing benchmarks are set.

The pace of the negotiations then depends on the speed of reform and alignment with EU laws in each country. The duration of negotiations can vary – starting at the same time as another country is no guarantee of finishing at the same time.

Concluding the negotiations

No negotiations on any individual chapter are closed until every EU government is satisfied with the candidate's progress in that policy field, as analysed by the Commission. Furthermore, the entire negotiation process is only concluded definitively once every chapter has been closed.

1. Accession treaty

This is the document that cements the country's membership of the EU. It contains the detailed terms and conditions of membership, all transitional arrangements and deadlines, as well as details of financial arrangements and any safeguard clauses.

It is not final and binding until it:

  • wins the support of the EU Council, the Commission, and the European Parliament
  • is signed by the candidate country and representatives of all existing EU countries
  • is ratified by the candidate country and every individual EU country, according to their constitutional rules (parliamentary vote, referendum, etc.)

2. Acceding country

Once the treaty is signed, however, the candidate becomes an acceding country. This means it is expected to become a full EU member on the date laid down in the treaty, providing the treaty has been ratified.

In the interim, it benefits from special arrangements, such as to comment on draft EU proposals, communications, recommendations or initiatives, and "active observer status" in EU bodies and agencies (it is entitled to speak, but not vote).

Which countries are Member States of the EU?

Who joined when?

Originally, the organisation now known as the European Union consisted of six members: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom then became members in 1973. Greece joined in 1981, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986, and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995.

In 2004, in the EU's biggest-ever enlargement, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia became Member States.

In January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania joined, bringing the EU's membership to 27.

Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013 and became 28th member.

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