Τhe Norwegian government and the EU recently signed the agreements on Norway’s new contributions to the least prosperous countries in the EEA. Norway will provide around NOK 3.3 billion (approximately EUR 391.4 million) annually in the period 2014-2021.
The government will give priority to supporting efforts in the areas of innovation, research and education. Energy security, climate change and greater cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary countries in the area of justice and home affairs will also be key focus areas.
The EEA and Norway Grants have helped to strengthen ties and cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary countries. In the new period, emphasis will be placed on further developing bilateral cooperation.
“We are also working to promote the continued participation of Norwegian companies, researchers, municipalities, social partners and NGOs in programmes and joint projects. This gives Norwegian factors the opportunity to gain international experience and access to important networks in Europe, our largest export market”, said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs, Elisabeth Aspaker.
The government will also continue to use the EEA and Norway Grants to strengthen democratic processes and respect for human rights in Europe. This includes improving living conditions for the Roma.
A regional fund of EUR 100 million is also being established. There are a number of challenges in Europe that affect several countries or regions and that can only be tackled through cross-border efforts. The fund will support cross-border initiatives, and this may also include efforts involving non-beneficiary countries. This opens up opportunities for cooperation with other countries such as Ukraine and Moldova. Approximately two-thirds of the fund will be earmarked for efforts to reduce youth unemployment.
The EEA and Norway Grants scheme consists of two financial mechanisms. One is funded solely by Norway (the Norway Grants), and amounts to EUR 179.1 million a year for the 2014–2021 period. The other (the EEA Grants) amounts to EUR 221.2 million a year, and includes a combined contribution from Iceland and Liechtenstein of around 4 % of the total.
The beneficiary countries for the new funding period are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The government will submit a proposition to the Storting in the near future, requesting ratification of the agreements that have been signed. Parallel to the negotiations with the EU on the EEA and Norway Grants, the government has negotiated an agreement on better market access for Norwegian seafood that has resulted in new tariff-free quotas for certain types of fish products.
SOURCE: Embassy of Norway
PHOTO: The European Union [L-R: Ms Oda Helen SLETNES, Norwegian Ambassador to the EU; Mr Kurt JAGER, Head of Mission of Liechtenstein to the European Union; Mr Pieter DE GOOIJER, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the EU; Ms Bergdis ELLERTSDOTTIR, Head of the Mission of Iceland to the EU.]