PHARE is a major financial instrument of the European Union for cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in assisting their transition to a market economy and democracy. The program was set up in 1989 to help the transition process in Poland and Hungary, and was later implemented in other countries. Since 1998, the program’s priorities have been substantially altered, with its main objective being to prepare the candidate countries for accession to the EU.
Phare funds are raised from the general EU budget and from national co-financing. The distribution of funding is based on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita criterion for a particular region. The scope of action is local – Bulgaria is divided into six planned areas.
Phare funds are granted as a grant and the scope of its activities has expanded considerably. The PHARE program is adapted to the changing priorities and nature of the reform process in each of the candidate countries for EU membership.
Since 1994, the program has increased funding to support legislation and administrative structures as well as projects that support democratization and civil society for investment in infrastructure, including cross-border cooperation. Partner countries identify the priorities for which assistance is needed under the program and, after agreement with the European Commission, financial memoranda of cooperation for each financial year are signed.
PHARE assistance focuses on two main areas:
Institutional building to adopt the acquis of EU law(acquis ), incl. building and increasing administrative capacity.
Andnvestitsionna support to ensure effective implementation of the acquis .
Strengthening institutional and administrative capacity (IS) is a basic requirement for Bulgaria to join the EU. This is the first priority for PHARE spending and can only be achieved on the basis of a strong commitment on the part of national institutions to reform policy, changes in public administration, and a willingness to deliver real human and financial resources.
Assistance provided through the Phare Program in the field of institutional strengthening is oriented towards public administration at central, regional and local level and focuses on:
The assistance provided by Phare in the field of investment has two aspects:
For Bulgaria, the Phare program mainly comprises two programs: the National Program and the Cross-Border Cooperation Programs (PHARE-CBC).
Phare – National Program
Every year, the European Commission signs with Bulgaria a financial memorandum for the Phare National Program. It contains a list of all the projects to be implemented within the priority areas defined in the Accession Partnership and the National Program for the Adoption of the Acquis.
The financial structure of the Phare National Program, according to the relevant European Union guides, provides for a minimum of 30% of the funds to be earmarked for institution building and a maximum of 70% for investments . In the event that JI measures and related investments are fully completed, investments to support ESCs may be increased.
II . Main objectives and principles of PHARE program
Since 1999, the overall goal of the Phare program is to assist candidate countries in their preparations for EU accession. The assistance is fully focused on the priorities set out in the Accession Partnerships and designed to support the implementation of the Copenhagen criteria formulated in 1993:
The “Pre-Accession Focal Point”, based on clearly defined priorities, is complemented by continuous development of the Phare management system to improve the speed, effectiveness and efficiency of its overall functioning.
The Phare Review of November 2000 sets out the objective of a smooth transition to the Structural Funds and identifies the following main activities for its delivery:
Phare does not support projects that: