Successful closing event in Hungary
Hungary has received €135 million through the EEA and Norway Grants in the period from 2004 to 2009. Five years of successful implementation were marked by a closing conference and a brand new booklet in June 2011.
The Royal Norwegian Embassy, in co-operation with the Hungarian National Focal Point (the National Development Agency) organised the one-day event to mark the end of the first period of Norway Grants in Budapest on June 17. The objectives were both to celebrate the successful implementation of the funded projects, and to engage project promoters, donor state representatives and other stakeholders in active dialogue.
At the conference the Embassy and the NDA launched a new 108-page brochure containing detailed and reader-friendly information about the EEA and Norway Grants (2004-09), including background and priority areas, as well as all supported projects.
Putting Norway on the map and strengthening cooperation
Norway’s Ambassador, H.E. Siri Ellen Sletner welcomed the around 200 participants and praised the achievements of the project promoters as well as the dedicated work of the participating institutions. The grants aim to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe as well as strengthen the ties between the donor and the beneficiary states.
“Never before has Norway received so much attention in this part of Europe. I have had the outstanding opportunity to visit projects in many towns and villages in all counties of Hungary, and I have witnessed an enormous awareness of my country, coupled with tremendous hospitality and openness from the local people. It filled me with great pride when I saw Norwegian flags and Norway Grants signs in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County in the North-East to Zala County in the South-West”.
Successful implementation despite challenges
President Zoltán Petykó of the National Development Agency expressed Hungary’s gratitude to the donor states for their contribution and stressed that the Funds were instrumental in enhancing the reduction of socio-economic disparities and in complementing the government’s central aim to create jobs and strengthen the economy.
Mr. Kurt Haugen, head of the Financial Mechanisms 2004-09, characterised it as a great success that the vast majority of projects, after some teething problems, were successfully completed before the final deadline in April 2011. Mr. Balazs Simó, Director General of the National Focal Point elaborated in more detail the history and the institutional setup of the EEA and Norway Grants in Hungary. The Director General emphasised the strong and constructive day-to-day cooperation with the involved institutions.
Parallel workshops: experiences and recommendations
The second part of the conference was dedicated to drawing the conclusions and receiving feedback from the project promoters concerning the experiences of the application and the implementation processes. Six parallel workshops were organised, based on the priority areas.
The most important conclusions, arguments and experiences will feed into the process of devising and launching the new programmes under the EEA and Norway Grants.
Bilateral focus in launching of new programmes
Ms. Vibeke Rysst-Jensen, deputy director general at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addressed the continued cooperation between the donor and beneficiary states by giving a detailed overview of the status for the new funding period. She also emphasised the importance of the strengthened bilateral aspect in the new period, and expressed hope that the MoU-negotiations with Hungary can be concluded in the coming months.
Photos: National Development Agency