Basically Twinning characterizes bilateral partnership projects between the administrative bodies of EU Member States and a candidate country. Funded by the European Commission, a Twinning project relates to a specific policy area in which the candidate country should and wants to carry out reforms.
Over the years, this original concept has been extended in two respects: On the one hand, on the side of the Member States Twinning projects are not only carried out by administrative institutions, but also by so called Mandated Bodies. These are institutions which do not belong to the public administration, but have been mandated by the European Commission to implement projects on behalf of the Member State because of their specific expertise and function. On the basis of such a mandate, the BIM has been active as Austrian Twinning partner in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democratisation since 2002.
On the other hand, the circle of beneficiary countries has been enlarged. Twinning is no longer only conducted with candidate countries and potential candidates, but also being carried out in the EU's neighbouring regions. Accordingly, Twinning is currently applied in the framework of the following two geographical financing instruments:
The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) covers the candidate countries (Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia as well as Turkey) and potential candidate countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Kosovo). In these countries Twinning is intended to promote particularly the areas of institution building, administrative reform and harmonization of the national legislations with the EU acquis communautaire.
The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) provides support to the Eastern neigbouring states Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine on the one hand and the Mediterranean region in the south (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Syria and Tunisia) on the other. The aim of this instrument is to strengthen the cooperation between the EU and these countries and to promote sustainable development.
Fur futher informationen on Twinning please see the website of the Directorate-General Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR).