Working together towards common goals
Strong partnerships were in the spotlight at the Slovenian closing conference for the 2009-2014 funding period which was held in Ljubljana on 7 October.
With a 27 million euro support from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants, Slovenia has launched over 120 projects in the last years in the fields of environment, scholarships, civil society, public health, gender equality, and culture. The results and experiences from these projects were shared and discussed at the closing conference ’Working Together towards Common Goals’ organised by the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, the National Focal Point of Slovenia.
Speaking at the event, Mr Franc Matjaž Zupančič, State Secretary at the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy underlined the importance of cooperation between Slovenia and the three donor countries. He also expressed belief that the partnerships and friendships developed would continue to grow in the upcoming period 2014–2021. Enhanced bilateral cooperation is the driving force behind the fundamental goal of the EEA and Norway Grants, which is to reduce economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area. Thorsteinn Björnsson from the Financial Mechanism Office in Brussels, said Slovenia had been on the right track to make this happen, which has contributed to increasing equal opportunities, tolerance, safety, environmental sustainability and decent life ̶ all of them being goals of the EEA and Norway Grants.
Five programmes have been implemented under the EEA and Norway Grants in Slovenia. The Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy is Programme Operator for three of the programmes and also acts as the National Focal Point. Other programmes are operated by the Regional Environmental Centre Slovenia (REC), the Centre for Information Service, Co-operation and Development of NGOs (CNVOS) and the Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS).
Thirty-six projects are being implemented under the two EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism programmes. According to Mojca Krisch, Head of Financial Mechanisms Division at the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, the selected project ideas were outstanding as they built on improving partnerships and collaboration, and followed the principle of sustainability.
Supporting local initiatives
Thirty-three projects have received support through the Slovenian NGO programme. Goran Forbici, Director of CNVOS and Blanka Koron, Director of REC, both Programme Operators of the NGO programme said that they were proud of witnessing the progress made through the programme, mentioning the creation of jobs, especially among young people, the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, less violence and more equality as the breakthrough achievements. They were happy to be able to give local and often neglected projects a chance – helping them create important solutions for local issues.
Fifty-two mobility projects involving exchange of 184 students, 84 teachers and 227 members of higher education teaching and administrative staff have received support under the Slovenian Scholarship programme, amounting to a little less than 2 million euros. According to Alenka Flander, Director of CMEPIUS and Programme Operator of the Scholarship programme, the project activities have contributed to strengthening mutual understanding as well as the perception and appreciation of differences while promoting cooperation. The activities have also helped foster the enhancement of human capital and bilateral relations while bringing together the economies and societies of the participating countries.
More than half of the supported projects have been implemented in cooperation with counterparts from the donor countries, creating numerous long term partnerships between institutions from Slovenia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The closing event featured some of the projects that received support, while all the projects funded under the 2009-2014 period are compiled in the publication ‘’Working Together Towards Common Goals’ available online here.
An article adapted from an article originally appearing on the website of the Slovenian National Focal Point.