On 19 March 1997, the European Commission approved new orientations for the Community's PHARE programme which has provided assistance to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe since its creation in 1989. PHARE will move from a demand-driven programme to one led by the preparations for accession to the European Union by the Central and Eastern European partner countries. The PHARE programme, which supported just Poland and Hungary at the start, now provides technical assistance for the transition to market economy and democracy for the ten Central European applicant countries. Three other countries are currently receiving PHARE assistance (Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia-Hercegovina), and their programmes will remain unchanged. Total PHARE funding between 1990 and 1994 was ECU 4.2 billion. Between 1995 and 1999, the programme is expected to provide ECU 6.7 in grants. For the accession states, PHARE funding will be concentrated on projects addressing the priority needs relating to EU accession for each country. The two main priorities will be institution-building and financing investments. Some 30% of PHARE funds will go to institution-building, in order to strengthen democratic institutions and public administrations, and in order to facilitate the introduction of the "acquis communautaire" and help the countries fulfil the economic and political criteria for EU membership. The remaining 70% will finance investments to improve enterprises and infrastructure. The Commission will establish an accession programme in partnership with each applicant country. In addition, there will be close coordination with other Community programmes, in particular in the education and training field. The programmes will also be drawn up in coordination with other institutions offering financial assistance, such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia