Twinning is an EU funded programme for institutional cooperation. Within the programme, EU public sector institutions or institutions with public sector involvement work together to achieve the adoption or implementation of some part of the EU acquis communautaire and particular objectives of the Association Agreement within the beneficiary country. The broader goal of twinning is therefore to support beneficiary countries in creating strong and modern administrative structures through the development of human resources and leadership building.
- Beneficiary countries within the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA): Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey
- Beneficiary countries within the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI): Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia, Ukraine.
- In 2020, the European Commission decided to implement twinning pilot projects in European Development Fund, EDF and Development Cooperation Instrument, DCI countries.
Participating in twinning projects
Twinning can be classical, lasting between 12-36 months, or short-term (Twinning Light), which lasts up to eight months, occasionally 10 months.
Usually many offers are submitted for each project and the best among them is chosen. Projects are often carried out by many member states in what is called a Twinning Consortium. Twinning Consortiums that bring together “old” and “new” member states are especially encouraged, since the “older” member states have long-term experience in leading twinning projects and the members that have joined since 2004 can offer experts with fresh experience in building up new institutions.
European Union member states contribute to projects by sending a group of short-term or long-term experts to the beneficiary country. Every project has at least one long-term expert (the Resident Twinning Advisor or RTA) and a Project Leader. The Project Leader is responsible for the general leadership and direction of the project. The RTA is sent from an institution in the public sector or with public sector involvement in the member state – called mandated bodies – to work full-time in the equivalent institution in the beneficiary country (usually a ministry) for twelve months. Private sector experts cannot be used in projects. In addition to sending the RTA, visits by other specialists necessary for achieving the goal of the project are arranged. The visits are carefully planned and timed. Within the framework of a twinning project it is possible to finance political consultations (including legislative drafting, advising on the organisational aspect, increasing awareness, etc.), trainings, study trips, and internships. All of these activities, the eligibility of expenses for carrying out a twinning project, and other necessary procedural regulations can be found in the Twinning Manual 2017, update in 2018 (PDF) and the Twinning Manual 2017, update in 2020 (valid from 25.09.2020). (PDF)
Benefits of twinning projects:
- twinning partners get to share their experiences and knowledge in an equal exchange
- the best public administration practices of the member states are implemented
- the twinning Project Leader gains valuable project management experience
- in Twinning Consortiums, member states also learn more about one another
- structured long-term working relationships and professional networks are formed, and attitudes towards one another change
- the professional capabilities of both sides are improved through training sessions
- legislation is developed and improved, which is necessary for fulfilling obligations accepted through agreements and action plans and for integrating with European markets
- as an added value for all counterparts, changes are seen in the beneficiary country’s organisational mechanisms, leadership styles are improved, and communication and coordination become more efficient.
National Contact Point for Twinning
Twinning is co-ordinated by the National Contact Point for Twinning (NCP). In Estonia the NCP is the Foreign Ministry’s division for development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
The National Contact Point facilitates exchange of information between partner countries, cooperation countries and the European Commission. Twinning project fiches are forwarded to the ministries by the NCP. The NCP also receives project proposals for twinning calls for proposals.
To contact the Estonian NCP please write to twinning[at]mfa.ee.
TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange) is an instrument of the EU that supports public administrations with the approximation, implementation and enforcement of EU legislation and facilitates sharing of EU best practices. It is largely needs-driven and delivers expertise to address issues through workshops, expert missions or study visits. TAIEX projects often precede twinning projects.
Experts of ministries and their sub-institutions (including mandated bodies) that are interested in participating in TAIEX projects should register in the European Commission’s TAIEX expert database.
- Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo,
- Turkish Cypriot community in the northern part of Cyprus,
- Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine,
- All countries covered by the Partnership Instrument,
- EU Member States in the framework of administrative cooperation with DG for Regional and Urban Policy, DG Environment and DG SGs' Structural Reform Support Service.
For more information on TAIEX please write to twinning[at]mfa.ee.
Current Twinning pipeline can be found on the website of the European Commission.