For phare program

  1. Essence and main priorities ofthe PHARE Program

 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:

  •  supporting the implementation of the acquis and preparing for alignment with EU policy in the field of economic and social cohesion (ESC);
  • support to meet the Copenhagen criteria in the governmental and non-governmental sector.

For Bulgaria, the Phare program mainly comprises two programs: the National Program and the Cross-Border Cooperation Programs (PHARE-CBC).

  • investments to strengthen the legal system needed to harmonize the country’s legislation with the acquis;
  • investment in support of economic and social cohesion (ESC) through measures similar to those funded through the EU Structural Funds under Objective 1.

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

General objective

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:

  • Political Criteria
    • the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, respect for and protection of minorities;
  • Economic Criteria
    • the existence of a functioning market economy
    • ability to cope with competitive pressure and market forces in the EU;
  • Ability to assume the obligations arising from membership
    • built administrative capacity to implement the acquis in their various aspects (the 29 negotiation chapters)

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:

  • Strengthening the focus on program and administrative capacity and use of investment as a tool for institutional building and testing of structures, approaches, etc .;
  • Strengthening the Economic and Social Cohesion Strategy (National Development Plan);
  • Selecting appropriate national and regional programs in each candidate country (by clearly distinguishing between sectoral programs and integrated regional programs on the one hand and between integrated regional programs and cross-border cooperation programs on the other);
  • Implement multiannual indicative programming for all Phare support, incl. institutional strengthening and investment;
  • Development of cross-border cooperation in the direction of INTERREG;
  • Implementation (from 2002 and for each applicant country separately) of the decentralization provisions set out in Regulation (EC) 1266/99;
  • Improvement of project selection procedures with a view to drawing up a list of priority projects.

Phare does not support projects that:

  • are mainly information campaigns (but dissemination of information as part of an IU project is permitted);
  • are language courses (except those for ethnic minorities);
  • are travel expenses for Bulgarian employees;
  • support exports when support is focused on specific enterprises and consists of investment funds. Marketing plans, training, etc .;
  • are complex financial instruments. The Phare program finances only single financial engineering instruments (on a grant basis);
  • are large-scale legal consortia (used in the past to harmonize the national legislation of the candidate countries with the acquis);
  •  are projects that have not complied with the formal requirements set out in the Program Guide (eg project size, etc.);
  •  they are not for vocational training;
  • are investments generating large financial revenues such as airports, ports, telecommunications, electricity and gas (but SMEs can receive grants under the ESC and CBC);
  • not for business-related infrastructure, such as health and education.