During the last 60 years the EU has grown from six Member States to 28. Even critics of the EU project are bound to agree that successive enlargements have extended the area of peace and stability across Europe.
Several neighbouring countries are keen to become part of the EU, and throughout history the EU has kept its doors open for new members which share its commitment to peace, stability and prosperity. That openness has been accompanied by action in the form of pre-accession aid. But what exactly is pre-accession aid, which countries does it go to and what have been the results in bringing them closer to EU membership? Which conditions do (potential) candidate countries have to meet and why? What other assistance goes to these countries, and how does the ECA audit the aid given? And what are the key ingredients for countries to make progress towards accession?
We address these questions, and others, in this issue of the Journal, which is bimonthly in view of the summer break. The special theme for August/September is ‘EU pre-accession aid.’ You can read an interview with Bettina Jakobsen, reporting ECA Member for a recent report on EU pre-accession aid to Turkey, on what it takes to make progress towards accession. Christian Danielsson, the Commission’s Director-General responsible for this area in DG NEAR, elaborates on the perspectives of EU membership. ECA Director Philippe Froidure gives his views on the evolution of pre-accession aid and the key ingredients for making it successful. Other articles cover ECA audits in the Western Balkans and Turkey, and focus on the different components of EU aid for the countries concerned. There is an interview with David McAllister, MEP and Chair of AFET, the European Parliament committee dealing with enlargement issues. Contributions from EIB, EBRD and OECD experts, and from a former ECA staff member who is an expert on SIGMA, contain thoughts on the potential for and limitations of pre-accession aid. Finally, we give the floor to audit officials from the countries concerned to hear how they work, how EU aid is used and what is done to ensure accountability for its use.
05 Political will is essential for accession progress
08 Perspective of EU membership important driver for progress and reconciliation in Western Balkans
23 Auditing Turkey: from EU pre-accession to migration management
38 ‘Enlargement process as occasion for the EU to reinvent and reform itself’
41 Capacity building in EU candidate countries in the area of financial control: some personal experiences and thoughts
Plus: factual information on the accession process and the current (potential) candidate countries; audit experiences in the field; information on the Western Balkans parallel performance audit project; experiences with ECA internships for auditors of candidate countries; roots of the cooperation with audit offices of candidate countries. To conclude, an article on the ECA’s summer school cooperation project on data analytics and information on publications since July.