All country specific negotiations to start before end of year
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and the 15 beneficiary states of the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14 are well underway in defining the national priorities.
Negotiations on the use of the funds are opened with Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal. Slovakia has already signed agreements, while Greece has reached an agreement with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway on thematic areas.
Dialogues with Malta and Romania will start this week, and the opening of negotiations with Spain and Slovenia will follow in December. The dialogues will culminate in the signing of individual framework agreements, the so-called Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), with each country.
Defining national priorities
In the MoU consultations, the donor states and each beneficiary state define how and by whom the funding will be implemented at national level, agree on thematic priorities and describe how the bilateral objective of the Grants will be met.
Strengthening contact and cooperation between the beneficiary states and the donor states is an overarching goal of the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14. In addition to project-level cooperation, public entities in the beneficiary states will therefore cooperate with counterparts in the donor states in the implementation of several of the national programmes that will provide grants to projects.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have attached particular importance in the 2009-14 grant period to environmental and climate efforts and strengthening civil society in the 15 beneficiary states. A quarter of the funding will target environmental and climate efforts and a minimum of €100 million are earmarked to new funds for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). All countries will be required to set up NGO funds.
In total, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have presented the beneficiary states with a choice of 32 programme areas. During the MoU process, the donor and beneficiary states will identify and agree on the relevant programmes that will best fit local needs and deliver results towards the objectives of reduced disparities and strengthened cooperation.
Once the individual MoUs have been agreed on, the beneficiary states will start developing the specific programmes. This work includes detailing expected outcomes and suggested activities in the relevant programme areas.
Each country will identify potential operators for the chosen programmes and require these to work out a programme proposal that will be subject to donor state approval. The programme applications may be submitted to the donor states after the signing of the MoUs.
The programmes are expected to be established from 2011 onwards. Grants will be awarded to projects following calls for proposals that will be organised by the respective programme operators in the beneficiary states, most likely starting in 2012.