The European Commission sets legal, financial, and procedural framework for the implementation of Twinning projects and, as a central coordinator, supervises the transparency and consistency of the application of Twinning rules. Its role and level of involvement in each project depends on the project implementation system established in each Beneficiary country. Furthermore, the European Commission creates and regularly updates the Twinning Manual, which contains comprehensive and practical information for adequate preparation and successful implementation of Twinning projects.
Regarding the project management, we can distinguish between direct and indirect project management system. In direct management system, the Delegation of the European Union (EU Delegation, EUD) which acts on behalf of the European Commission has a role of a Contracting Authority that publishes the Twinning Fiche, supervises the selection process and project implementation, concludes contracts, and approves reports. In the indirect management system, this role belongs to a competent implementing body in the Beneficiary country (Central Finance and Contracting Unit/Authority/Department) with ex-ante or ex-post control by the EUD.
In both cases mentioned above, the European Commission has a key role in setting priorities for the distribution of EU financial assets for Twinning projects and their programming within the framework of relevant financial instruments, given that the assets for the implementation of Twinning projects are provided by the EU.
Twinning Manual, Revision 2017 – Update 2022, available at the following link:
The Twinning Fiche is published after the completion of the project programming phase and the preparation of the project summary in which the Beneficiary country identifies the needs and specifies the purpose of the project, as well as the results that should be achieved through its implementation. Only public administrations and mandated bodies of the European Union may apply. Member States can prepare a project proposal independently or in a consortium with other EU Member States. The selection committee objectively evaluates all received proposals. Under direct management system, the selection committee is composed of EUD and Beneficiary administration representatives, while in the indirect management system all members of the selection committee come from the Beneficiary administration. After the completion of the selection process, the selected Member State is invited to draft the Twinning Grant Contract.
The Member State project team, together with their colleagues from the Beneficiary country, are responsible for the implementation of the project. Each project has two Project Leaders (PL) – one from the Member State and one from the Beneficiary country. The backbone of every Twinning project is the Resident Twinning Advisor (RTA), a permanently employed expert from a Member State administration or mandated body who is transferred to work in the Beneficiary country throughout entire duration of the Twinning project. Also, the RTA is responsible for daily coordination and implementation of project activities. The Beneficiary country nominates his direct counterpart, whose main duty is to provide daily support to the RTA in performing general tasks related to the project. The role of the Member State short term experts within the project implementation is to deliver their expertise on missions to the Beneficiary country, work together with its experts on project activities and deliver project results/outputs.
In addition to standard Twinning projects, there are also Twinning light projects that are designed to follow the same basic principles of standard Twinning, but on a smaller scale. Certain differences between Twinning and Twinning light projects are shown in the comparison below.
In the Twinning implementation system, an important role is placed on the National Contact Points (NCPs) for Twinning. NCPs are established in all EU Member States and all Beneficiary countries as central points of communication between the European Commission, EU Member States and Beneficiary countries. Moreover, NCP has a key role in promotion of Twinning tool, coordination of Twinning projects and communication and channelling information (e.g. NCP of the EU Member State informs its public institutions and bodies of the published Twinning Fiches; NCP of the Beneficiary country provides relevant information on Twinning procedures to public institutions and bodies in the Beneficiary country).