Significant changes were introduced with the draft Regulation for the new financial perspective of the Instrument for Pre-Accession 2 (IPA 2), for the period 2014-2020. The coherence between the financial assistance and the overall progress made in the implementation of the pre-accession strategy had to be strengthened. In addition, future pre-accession assistance needed to be even more strategic, efficient and better targeted than has been the case so far, aiming for more sustainable results in improving the readiness of these countries for memberships. Taking into account that with IPA 2 results and impact are very important segments, the principle of Sector Based Approach has to be applied when preparing the strategic documents. In order for the country to move forward to Sector Approach, several conditions must be in place and in particular, the new programming documents needed to respond to the demand for a simplified and more focussed financial assistance. Macedonia is at the crossroad of South-Eastern Europe, as an important transit route for lad traffic between Central Europe, the Aegean Sea, the Black sea and the Adriatic Sea. The landlocked position of the country in the Balkan Peninsula incited development of international traffic along two trans-national axes: north-south (corridor X) and East-West (Corridor VIII) linked to the Trans European Transport Networks. The basic infrastructure of the country is relatively well established and it can be considered as a good basis for further modernisation. The transport of passengers and goods is made via road, railway, air, inland, waterway and urban transport modes. The physical infrastructure consisted hitherto of about 14.159 km of public roads; 2.925 km railways and 2 international airports (Skopje and Ohrid). Since 2002, the country commenced the process of harmonization of its national transport legislation with the EU acquis. The EU policy regarding the extension of the major Trans-European Transport Axes to the EU neighbouring countries was confirmed and the orientation was already given in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Development of the South East Europe Core Regional Transport Network. The national priorities for the development of the transport sector were defined in several national and regional strategic documents. Based on the aforementioned context and background, the objective of this assignment was to support the programming process and to improve the impact of EU assistance to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for the period 2014-2020, in the transport sector. The specific purposes of this contract was to assist in improvement and fine-turning of the Sector Operational Programme for transport 2014-2020 and the definition of starting benchmarks.

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