‘Community agencies: partners in accession’ will be the focus of a conference hosted by the Lisbon-based EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) in Sintra from 25–27 November, at the initiative of the European Commission (1). The event is financed by the Commission’s Instrument of Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) programme, through which candidate and potential candidate countries to the EU receive funding to prepare for membership. Reinforcing the institutional and administrative capacity of IPA beneficiary countries (2) is a key requirement for enlargement if they are to be in a position to fully adopt, implement and comply with EU standards.
Since 1997, the Community agencies have been involved in this process (3), working with candidate countries on a variety of technical assistance projects in areas ranging from health and food safety, to social inclusion and education, to the environment. Since 2003, possibilities for collaboration have been extended to the Western Balkans (4).
The Sintra conference will focus on cooperation between the Community agencies and the IPA beneficiary countries in the context of EU enlargement and the long-term construction of the Union. It will bring together around 100 delegates, including policymakers from candidate and potential candidate countries and EU Member States as well as representatives of the agencies and EU institutions.
Announcing the event EMCDDA Director Wolfgang Götz, said: ‘Significant political developments in European history have been commemorated in 2009, notably the 20th anniversary of the fall of the iron curtain and the fifth anniversary of the extensive wave of European Union enlargement in 2004. Looking to the future, this year has also marked the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by all EU Member States. Clearly Europe is a different place today than it was 20, or even 10, years ago and, as a result, the EU faces new challenges’.
‘As the nature, objectives and modalities of technical cooperation with the candidate and potential candidate countries become more complex, we require a new approach’, he added. ‘We hope that the conclusions of this conference will help improve the design, implementation and added value of technical cooperation projects to the benefit of all partners involved’.
The conference will provide a forum for partner countries to propose how technical assistance projects can be further enhanced. Working groups focusing on the themes of transport, health, environment and agriculture and living and working conditions will reflect on future needs for technical cooperation. The event will also offer the chance to explain the mechanisms and procedures for countries to become members of the agencies and illustrate the added value of joint projects. An exhibition will be organised during the conference showcasing a selection of technical assistance projects already carried out between the Community agencies and IPA beneficiary countries.
For further details see conference web page.