Today the Government submitted a white paper to the Storting on the EEA and Norway Grants. The purpose of the white paper is to sum up the results achieved in the period 2004–09 and set out the objectives for the period 2009–14.
The white paper reaffirms the Government’s commitment to closer cooperation on strategic matters between Norway and the beneficiary states. “At the same time we will continue to contribute to reducing social and economic disparities in Europe,” said Mr Støre.
The final evaluation of the first period shows that the projects have been successful and promoted progress both in priority sectors and in sectors where there has been little available funding from the EU. This applies, for example, to the environmental and justice sectors and to civil society. Norway is currently among the largest donors to NGOs in Central Europe. Norwegian partners have also been engaged in many projects.
At the same time, experience gained in the previous period has provided a basis for making important changes to the focus and management of the EEA and Norway Grants. Steps have been taken to better facilitate partnerships between Norwegian institutions and institutions in the beneficiary states. The funding is more clearly targeted and there is a stronger focus on risk management.
“Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway has become an important partner for the beneficiary states. The Government’s aim is that the Grants should strengthen positive trends in the beneficiary states and promote contact with Norway,” said Mr Støre.
Norwegian authorities and institutions are already engaged in more than half of the 144 programmes that are being developed. The aim is also to engage Norwegian organisations, institutions, companies, the social partners, NGOs and others in different projects.
Norway has contributed to reducing the economic and social disparities in Europe since the EEA was established. Since the EU enlargement in 2004, the funding has been channelled through the EEA and Norway Grants. Approximately NOK 14 billion has been made available for the period 2009–14. Norway provides 97% of this funding, while the rest is provided by Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The EEA and Norway Grants are made available to 12 countries in Central and Southern Europe and to the three Baltic states. The funding is allocated to projects in priority sectors, such as environmental protection and management, climate change and renewable energy, strengthening civil society, research and scholarship, green industry innovation, justice and home affairs and human and social development.