The planning and implementation of aid falls within the competence of the European Commission, which is assisted by the Management Committee in pursuance of EC Decision no.468/1999, and on which member states are represented.
The aid measures targeted by the geographic programmes for third countries are usually based on multi-year and annual planning, in accordance with the regulations of the various instruments.
The first step in this planning process, in logical and chronological order, is the Strategy Paper (when it refers to an individual country this is called the Country Strategy Paper (CSP); for PAIs, Multi-Annual Indicative Planning Document) or Regional Strategy Paper (RSP)), which outlines the priority action areas and general objectives of community assistance over a specific period of time (generally coincident with the current financial perspectives cycle) on the basis of an in-depth study—carried out with the beneficiaries—of the economic, social and institutional situation of the country or region being assisted.
These Strategy Papers form the basis, in turn (and according to a terminology that can vary slightly depending on the type of financial instrument), for National and Regional Indicative Programmes (NIP and RIP), in which assistance measures and expected results are defined in greater detail, and which describe an approximate distribution of financial resources for priority sectors within a 2 or 3 year timeframe.
The next level down from the Indicative Plans or Programmes is that of the Annual Action Plans, which contain the list of projects to be financed with the funds earmarked within a specific year.
Planning is done in agreement with the beneficiary country authorities. All the above-mentioned documents are then formally adopted in Brussels in the Management Committee chaired by the European Commission, on which member state representatives sit and which operates pursuant to Council Decision no. 469/1999 and later amendments.
IV Aid Implementation
In general the Community’s external aid consists of financial donations to beneficiary countries (The European Investment Bank, on the other hand, grants loans at reduced interest rates for certain initiatives).
The financial donations envisaged by the regulations on the EU's external actions, both geographic as well as thematic, are channelled in four main ways:
- direct budget support;
- calls for tenders for technical assistance, work projects and supply;
- calls for proposals, for the most part co-financed by the proposing bodies;
- institutional "twinnings" (technical assistance between EU member state and beneficiary country institutions).