CARDS Programme (Community Assistance for reconstruction, Development and Stabilization) is a programme of technical and financial aid from the European Union adopted in December 2000, whose main objective is providing support to the countries of Southeast Europe with active participation in the Stabilisation and Association Process.

This help consists of funding the programme for building institutions and investment programmes. The invested funds are non-refundable. Direct users of the funds are state bodies at all levels, public and mixed-type institutions, institutions providing help to corporate entities, cooperatives, associations, foundations and civil society organizations. The funds can also be used for co-financing projects.

CARDS Programmes is divided into two components: national and regional. National component is intended for the countries of the CARDS programme separately. In Croatia, it is implemented by the Central Finance and Contracting Unit of the Ministry of Finance as a part of a decentralized system. The Delegation of the European Commission plays the part of an ex-ante control. The users of the regional component are all the countries from the CARDS programme, and the preparation and implementation are centralized in the central institutions of the European Commission in Brussels. The activities within this component are planned as complementary to the activities implemented as a part of national programmes in the areas where joint activity can lead to better results.

Assistance is awarded to programmes/projects that are planned and elaborated in advance, based on a competition and compliant with standard procedure of the European Commission.

The programme is implemented so that in the first stage priority areas are defined and European Commission strategies and multi-annual indicative programmes for the period of three years created.

The total amount of the funds for the Republic of Croatia, within the national component for the period between 2001 and 2004, is € 262 m, while within the regional component it is € 179 m for the period between 2001 and 2006.