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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)




Twinning is a European Union instrument for institutional cooperation between Public Administrations of EU Member States (MS) and of beneficiary countries (BC). It was originally designed in 1998 to help candidate countries of the time to acquire the necessary skills and experience to adopt, implement and enforce EU legislation.

Twinning projects bring together public sector expertise from EU Member States and beneficiary countries with the aim of enhancing peer to peer activities. They must yield concrete mandatory operational results for the beneficiary country.

Beneficiaries include candidate countries and potential candidates to EU membership, as well as countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy.

More specifically, in the IPA region, Twinning aims to provide support for the transposition, implementation and enforcement of the EU legislation (the Unionacquis). It builds up capacities of beneficiary countries' public administrations throughout the accession process, resulting in progressive, positive developments in the region. Twinning strives to share good practices developed within the EU with beneficiary public administrations and to foster long-term relationships between administrations of existing and future EU countries.

In 2004 the Twinning instrument was also made available to some of the EU eastern and southern Neighbourhood partner countries. In this framework it aims at upgrading the administrative capacities of the public administration of a beneficiary country through the training of its staff, the reorganisation of its structure as well as the approximation of national laws, regulations and quality standards to those of EU Member States in the framework of Cooperation or Association agreements signed with the EU.

Transferring expertise

To set up Twinning projects, the European Union relies on the co-operation and administrative experience of EU Member States which mobilise public expertise both from public administrations and semi-public bodies. Two Project Leaders (one on behalf of the EU Member State leading the project, the other of the beneficiary administration) and a Resident Twinning Adviser (RTA) are the backbone of Twinning projects. The RTA is seconded from the lead MS to the beneficiary administration for a minimum of 12 months up to 36 months throughout the entire duration of the implementation period of the Action and coordinates the project's activities. The work plan of a Twinning project usually foresees short term and medium term expert missions, training events in the BC and awareness raising visits in the MSs.

Twinning Light

"Twinning Light" is designed to offer a more flexible, mid-term approach (up to six months) without the presence of an RTA.

Twinning principles

The beneficiary partner in a Twinning project is a public administration with sufficient staff and absorption capacity to work with a Member State institution having a similar structure and mandate. The beneficiary country partner must mobilise its staff, demonstrate enduring commitment and ownership, that is be able to adapt and take on board changes and best practices in a sustainable way. Twinning is not a one-way technical assistance instrument but a joint commitment where success is a common achievement.

If for candidate countries Twinning is synonym of legislation harmonisation and adoption and enforcement of the Union acquis, for Neighbourhood countries the focus is more on approximation to the EU legislation and standards.

Twinning projects are implemented with a view to the mandatory results to be achieved. They are usually articulated in components corresponding to the expected results and foresee a number of activities including workshops, training sessions, expert missions, study visits, internships and counselling. The principle of Twinning relies more on learning by doing and sharing best practices than on pure lecturing.

Recipients of the Instrument for Pre-accession assistance (IPA) are:

Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia[1], the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*[2], Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Recipients of the Twinning instrument under the European Neighbourhood Policy instrument (ENP) are:

ENISouth: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia.
ENIEast: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Regarding the documentation on Twinning please visit the Twinning page.


SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management) is a joint European Commission and OECD initiative, principally financed by the EU. It focuses on strengthening public management in areas such as administrative reform, public procurement, public sector ethics, anti-corruption, and external and internal financial control.

[1] Croatia is still a beneficiary country and at the same time a provider of assistance under the Twinning instrument.
[2] *This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.