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Technical references


Launched in 1998, institutional twinning arrangements are an initiative of the European Commission to help the candidate countries for accession to the European Union to build their administrative capacities for the implementation of the European Directives, relying on the Ministries concerned in the Member States.

Twinning projects are based on specific objectives, with a commitment to results, a quarterly work plan, indicators to evaluate their progress, strict administrative and financial procedures...

They involve joint work of experts from the two countries concerned to find solutions that are perfectly integrated and adapted to the local context, usually formatted on the basis of field tests, formalized in the form of methodological guides, implementing decrees, strategy or planning document to be used and validated by the National Authorities. The mechanisms of stakeholder involvement are thus activated and developed on this occasion and the beneficiaries' legitimacy strengthened with wide dissemination of the results.

These structuring projects involve the secondment of a full-time resident advisor for a period of at least one year, as well as short-term assignments of specialists on various issues.


Who are the stakeholders involved?

IOWater, as operator mandated by the French Ministries of Environment and Health, has been responsible for developing twinning arrangements in the water sector since their launching by the EU. IOWater has implemented more than 30 twinning projects in most of the candidate countries of the European Union and in its neighborhood area (Balkans, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and the Mediterranean).

The French partners involved in the twinning projects implemented by IOWater are:

  • The Water Agencies;
  • The Agency for Biodiversity;
  • Specialized institutes: BRGM, IFREMER, CEREMA, IRSTEA, CEDRE, INERIS, etc.


What is IOWater doing?

For nearly 20 years, twinning projects in the field of water have helped to accompany candidates and new entrants in their rapprochement with the “acquis communautaire” and the harmonization of practices.

A relationship between administrations, between experts, has thus been established which strengthens the links between countries and intra-community relations as in the neighborhood area.

These projects thus constitute a real tool for enhancing certain French know-how, for example

  • Strong inter-ministerial coordination with the National Water Committee and the Inter-Service Water Mission (MISE) but also with thematic working groups;
  • Mature legislation and well-structured administrative approaches that ensure their application;
  • Participatory management for 50 years: the Water Agencies prepare the management plans voted by the basin committees representing the water stakeholders (State, local authorities, users);
  • A recognized experience for the development of Water Information Systems and active cooperation on this topic with the Mediterranean countries;
  • A sustainable financing and incentive system: the application of the polluter-pays and user-pays principle through water fees that collect € 2 billion / year and finance about 30% of investments.


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