Twinning is an initiative of the European Commission that was launched in 1998 in the context of the preparation for enlargement of the European Union. It was conceived as an instrument for targeted administrative co-operation to assist the pro tempore Candidate Countries to strengthen their administrative and judicial capacity to implement EU legislation as future Member States of the European Union. It has remained an important pre-accession instrument which is now available for all the candidate countries and pre-candidates benefitting from the Instrument of preaccession (IPA): Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. As from the end of 2003, Twinning has been available to some of the countries covered by the programme for Newly Independent States were Partnership and Cooperation Agreements are signed between the Newly Independent States and the EU.

Concerning the Southern Mediterranean region, Association Agreements are signed between these and the EU in order to deepen co-operation within the general objectives of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. To implement these agreements, Support Programmes to the implementation of the Association Agreements (SAAPs) were launched.

The extension of the Twinning instrument to other regions coincided with the emergence of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Developed in view of the EU enlargement of May 2004, the ENP sets a framework for the EU relations with its Eastern and Southern neighbours. The overall goal of the ENP is to foster the political and economic reform process, promote closer economic integration, legal and technical approximation and sustainable development. To support its implementation, the ENP will be complemented by a new regulation that entered into force in 2007 -the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). In this context Twinning is introduced as an Institution Building co-operation instrument for the ENPI countries to implement the ENP Association Agreements/Partnership and Co-operation Agreements. Notwithstanding the need for adjustment to the specific situation and procedures designed for each geographical area, Twinning as an Institution Building instrument rests upon common features.

Firstly, Twinning projects are built around jointly agreed EU policy objectives, such as the preparation of EU enlargement or enhanced co-operation in line with EU policies, as foreseen under the respective IPA and ENPI regulations. Twinning is an EU institution building instrument developed by the Commission and based on partnership cooperation between public administrations of EU Member States and a Beneficiary Country for the achievement of mandatory results jointly agreed with the Commission.

© NFFKÜ (2013)