The EEA Grants and Norway Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reducing economic and social disparities and to strengthening bilateral relations with 15 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics.
WHY THE GRANTS
The EEA and Norway Grants have their basis in the EEA Agreement. Under this agreement, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are part of the European internal market. The agreement sets out the common goal of working together to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe and strengthening cooperation between European countries. For this purpose, we have established the EEA and Norway Grants.
Our objectives are two-fold: to reduce economic and social disparities in Europe, and to strengthen bilateral relations with our beneficiary countries. This improves the functioning of the internal market, and contributes to building a stronger Europe. In total, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have provided €3.3 billion through consecutive grant schemes between 1994 and 2014. A further €2.8 billion has been made available in the 2014-2021 funding period. Our support is mostly channelled through individual programmes covering a range of different sectors.
A new feature is the establishment of regional funds to tackle youth unemployment (€65.5 million) and promote regional cooperation (€34.5 million). Partnerships between organisations in the donor and beneficiary countries are widely encouraged. This brings mutual benefits, facilitating exchange and strengthening links across borders. A number of international organisations, like the Council of Europe, are also involved as partners in programmes and projects.
WHAT IS THE EEA
The European Economic Area binds together the 28 EU member countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as equal partners in the internal market. All EEA countries have the same rights and obligations when it comes to trade and investment, banking and insurance, and buying and selling services, and the citizens have the same right to work, study and live in any EEA member country. The Agreement also covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and innovation, education, culture and the environment.
HOW MUCH ARE THE GRANTS WORTH
The EEA Grants and Norway Grants are set up for five-year periods. For the period 2014-2021, €2.8 billion has been set aside under the Grants. The EEA Grants (€1.5 billion) are jointly financed by all three donors and available in all 15 countries. The Norway Grants (€1.3 billion) are financed solely by Norway and available in the 13 countries that joined the EU after 2003.
KEY AREAS OF SUPPORT
Funding is channelled through five priority sectors in the 15 beneficiary countries. Country allocations are based on population size and GDP per capita, making Poland the largest beneficiary state, followed by Romania, Hungary and the Bulgaria.
HOW DOES THE SCHEMES WORK
Each partner country agrees on a set of programmes with the donor countries, based on national needs and priorities and the scope for cooperation. All programmes must adhere to standards relating to human rights, good governance, sustainable development and gender equality.
In addition, the individual Memorandum of Understanding with each country lays down the guidelines and specifies any special concerns for individual programmes or for the grant scheme as whole. Inclusion of minorities and improving the situation of the Roma are examples of special concerns.
WHO CAN BENEFIT
Grants are available for national and local authorities, NGOs and civil society organisations, private and public enterprises, educational and research institutions, students and teaching staff and social partners.