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Twinning and TAIEX

Twinning and TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange) are programmes funded by the European Union, within the framework of which institutions in the public sector or with public sector involvement in a beneficiary country work together with their colleagues in European Union member states in order to achieve the adoption or implementation of some part of the European Union acquis communautaire in a particular sector or Association Agreement goals. The broader goal of twinning is therefore to support beneficiary countries in creating a strong and modern administrative structure, including through the development of human resources and the boosting of leadership capabilities.

Co-operation is funded by the European Union Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI).

  • Co-operation partner countries with IPA funding: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey
  • Co-operation partner countries with ENPI funding: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Moldova, Tunisia, and Ukraine
  • In addition to the aforementioned countries, TAIEX projects are also carried out in Libya, Syria, the occupied territories of Palestine, and Belarus.

Participating in twinning projects

Twinning can be classical, lasting for 24 months, or more short-term (Twinning Light), which lasts up to six 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 Reference Manual (Twinning Reference Manual ).

Participating in twinning projects is beneficial for all parties:

  • 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.

Domestic twinning co-ordination

Twinning is co-ordinated by the National Contact Point for Twinning (NCP). In Estonia the NCP is the Foreign Ministry’s division for development co-operation and humanitarian aid.

The National Contact Point is first and foremost responsible for mediating information between the country, other member states and partner countries, and the European Commission. Twinning project fiches are forwarded to the ministries by the Contact Point, which also receives project proposals for twinning projects.

Estonia’s participation in twinning projects as a junior partner:

Beneficiary country

Project name

Leading partner

Junior partner

Bosnia  and Herzegovina

Twinning Assistance to the Ministry of Communications and Transport of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Implementation of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Law on Railways




Development of Regulatory Impact Assessment System (RIAS)




Strengthening the Administrative Capacity of the Agency for the Audit of European Union Programmes Implementation System (Audit Authority) for the Audit of EU Cohesion, Agricultural and Fisheries Instruments




Strengthening the National Customs and Sanitary-Phyto-sanitary Border Control System in Georgia




Improved education in the Public Safety and Security




Strengthening the capacity of  State Police to implement the National Criminal Intelligence Model




Strengthening the administrative capacity in information society




Environment and Countryside under IPARD







Strengthening rural development programme under IPARD



Estonia’s participation in twinning projects as a leading partner (Twinning Light):

Beneficiary country

Project name

Bosnia  and Herzegovina

Assistance to the Training Unit of the Civil Service Agency in defining training strategy and content of training for civil servants

Estonia’s participation in twinning projects by sector (% of total projects):

  • Financial sector – 34%
  • Internal and legal matters – 22%
  • Telecommunications – 11%
  • Agriculture – 11%
  • Transportation – 11%
  • Other – 11%

Additional information on twinning can be found from the website of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement and the website of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Development and Cooperation EuropeAid.

All of the projects carried out under the TAIEX (Technical Assistance and Information Exchange) instrument are short-term (usually 3-5 days) and primarily take place in the form of trainings, seminars and study trips. The organisational side is covered by the European Commission. TAIEX projects often precede twinning projects.

Experts of ministries and their subordinate institutions (including mandated bodies) that are interested in participating in TAIEX projects should register in the European Commission’s TAIEX database.

TAIEX presentation

To get additional information from the national contact person for twinning and TAIEX:


Materials from the seminar “Practical Aspects of Twinning – From Filling a Project Application to Implementation”, which took place at the Foreign Ministry on 22 January 2013.

Twinning projects that have been announced



Last updated: 24 August 2015

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