EEA and Norway Grants
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2010)|
The EEA Grants and Norway Grants are the financial contributions of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein towards the reduction of economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area (EEA) and to strengthen bilateral relations with 15 EU and EEA Member States in Central and Southern Europe.
The EEA Agreement allows the EEA EFTA States (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to participate in the Internal Market. Ever since the EEA Agreement entered into force in 1994, the EEA EFTA States have contributed to social and economic progress in the least developed countries of the EU and EEA. The contributions have been the Financial Mechanism (1994–1998), the Financial Instrument (1999–2003), and the EEA and Norway Grants (2004–2009). In July 2010, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein signed a new agreement with the EU on new financial contributions for the period 2009–2014.
According to the Agreement on the EEA Grants 2009–14, annual tranches of €197.7 million will be made available to the 12 newest EU member states as well as to Greece, Portugal and Spain. Poland and Romania are the biggest recipients, with €116 million and €61 million of funding, followed by Hungary, Czech Republic and Bulgaria with €25–30 million in support.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway contribute financially according to their size and financial strength. As by far the largest country of the three, Norway provides 95% of the EEA Grants. The priority sectors are environmental protection and management, climate change and renewable energy, civil society, human and social development, and protecting cultural heritage. Academic research may be eligible within one or more of these sectors.
According to the Agreement for the separate Norway Grants, Norway will make available an additional annual contribution of €160 million to the 12 newest EU member states. The priority sectors are carbon capture and storage, green industry innovation, research and scholarship, human and social development, justice and home affairs, and promotion of decent work and tripartite dialogue.
Strengthening bilateral relations is a key aspect of the EEA and Norway Grants, and partnerships between donor state entities and beneficiary state entities is a central aim in the implementation of these grant schemes.
In the period 2004–2009, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein made available €1.307 billion in support to 15 beneficiary states in Central and Southern Europe; the 12 newest EU member states, Greece, Portugal and Spain. Country allocations are based on population size and GDP per capita, making Poland the largest beneficiary state, followed by Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic.
The enlargements of the EU and the EEA in 2004 and 2007 required a substantial increase in the contributions towards European cohesion. Most of the new member states were considerably below the EU average level of social and economic development. To illustrate, the 10 states joining the EU in 2004 had 75 million inhabitants, but a joint GDP below the one of Norway and Switzerland combined with merely 12 million inhabitants.
Funding and country allocations
Of the total sum of €1.3 billion, €672 million was made available through the EEA Grants, €567 million through the Norway Grants and €68 million through the Norwegian bilateral cooperation programmes with Bulgaria and Romania. Norway – as the largest donor – provided close to 97% of the total funding. Norway Grants and the bilateral cooperation programmes were financed by Norway alone, while the EEA Grants was jointly financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Supported areas and projects
Projects were supported within environment and sustainable development, conservation of European cultural heritage, human resources development, health and childcare, academic research, Schengen acquis and strengthening the judiciary, regional policy and cross-border activities.
1250 projects, programmes and funds were awarded grants and shall be completed by end-April 2011. Public and private institutions in the beneficiary states that operate in the public interest were eligible for grant support – e.g. national, regional and local authorities, education/research institutions, environmental bodies, civil society organisations and public-private partnerships.
Summaries of all supported projects as well as videos and picture galleries are available in a searchable database at the EEA and Norway Grants web site.
In the period 2004–2009, more than 1 in 5 supported projects were partnership projects between entities in the beneficiary states and Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway. The majority of these projects were found within the fields of academic research, environmental protection and sustainable development. The largest numbers of partnership projects are found in Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Latvia and Hungary. In Romania and Bulgaria, more than half of all projects are partnership projects.
Financial Instrument 1999–2003
In the period 1999–2003, Greece, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Spain received €119.6 million from the EEA EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Projects were supported within the field of environmental protection, urban renewal, pollution in urban areas, protection of cultural heritage, transport, education and training, and academic research. About 93% of the funding was spent on projects related to environmental protection.
Financial Mechanism 1994–1998
The first programme for economic support covered Greece, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Projects were supported within the fields of environmental protection, education and training, and transport. In addition to €500 million in project support, interest rebates were granted on loans amounting to €1.5 billion in the European Investment Bank (EIB).
When Finland, Sweden and Austria left EFTA for the EU on 1 January 1995, the European Commission took over responsibilities for the contributions of these three countries.