Mid-term review of the EEA and Norway Grants
The EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14 will deliver agreed results and produce long-term impacts when the funding period terminates later this year, an independent mid-term review concludes.
The UK-based Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services (CSES) has been contracted to assess the overall progress and impact of our cooperation programmes. Their mid-term review concludes that our support constitutes an important and successful investment of funds with the objective of reducing disparities and strengthening ties and cooperation between the donor and beneficiary countries.
- Many programmes will produce long-term impacts without further intervention.
- The potential for impact is seen as greater in programmes with a specific focus, rather than attempting to address the full breadth of issues within a programme area.
- The programmes deliver short term economic benefits in local communities where projects are implemented. As a by-product of investments in environmental protection, energy efficiency and public health, the support also have the potential to deliver long-term economic benefits.
- The programme-based approach has improved the efficiency and the potential effectiveness of the Grants compared to the previous period, and has forged the opportunity for Donor Programme Partners to have a positive impact in the design and implementation of programmes.
Filling the funding gap
The review also highlights that our programmes are focused and customised to the needs of the beneficiary countries, the priorities of the donors and aligned with national policy and wider European goals. The programmes both supplement and complement areas that are not covered by the EU Structural Funds.
In that sense our Grants are also filling a funding gap. This includes in particular, investments in the fields of justice and home affairs, support for civil society organisations and culture.
Active steps to secure impact
Yet, while the mid-term review found that our programmes are doing well overall, it also highlights some key shortcomings, such as the fact that there has been delays in the allocation of funds and in programme implementation.
This is mainly due to delays in internal processes in the EU that resulted in the late signing of the agreements. However, by extending the eligibility period for programmes until 2017, the donors took active steps to ensure that the planned results and objectives will be achieved by programme closure in 2017.
Snapshots of results from the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-2014
Some programme results lead to desired impact without further intervention. These include, amongst other things, investments in increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, which in turn leads to reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases.
Poland generates most of its electricity from coal, but through the programme ‘Saving energy and promoting renewable energy sources’, more than 100 projects aiming to reduce the demand for fossil fuels and expand the use of renewable energy solutions in buildings have received funding. The hospital and health care centre in Glubczyce is one example. Several of the buildings have been modernised and the hospital has been equipped with solar panels and heat pumps, thus reducing the demand for heat and fossil fuel-based electricity. The result is sustained energy savings and more energy efficient and climate-friendly energy solutions, which in turn will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is estimated by the programme operator that the programme will contribute to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to just below 500 000 tonnes/year.
Lithuania has the third highest prison population rate in the EU, and the living conditions in prisons remain a serious concern. Through the Lithuanian ‘Correctional services’ programme, the system is improved in compliance with European standards. This is achieved through measures that aim to reduce overcrowding, increase alternatives to imprisonment and enhance the competences of prison staff.
To overcome challenges connected to growing prison populations and prison overcrowding, five new open prisons will be established to better prepare Lithuanian inmates prepare to re-integrate into society once released. With support from Norway, 750 inmates will take part in alternatives to prison (courses, treatment, community service etc.), thus reducing the number of inmates in Lithuanian prisons. The method of mediation has been introduced to the justice system, and 80 prison staff has hence undergone training in mediation techniques and new ways of working with inmates.
The mid-term review includes 21 recommendations from the Centre for Strategy & Evaluation Services. A follow-up plan will be put in place by the donor countries to ensure that relevant and applicable recommendations are taken into consideration in the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021 programme period.
Key recommendations regarding the tools for improving and strengthening programme design and programme management requirements include:
- Extend the programme period from 5 to seven years, given the time taken to negotiate, approve and develop programmes
- Reduce the number of programmes in the next funding period
- Expand the role of DPPs to include the communicating in their home country and attracting donor project partners
- Provide more in-depth support to NFPs and POs in the programme development process
- Undertake research into the extent to which the programmes’ effects have been mainstreamed into national policy or practise
You can read about the findings, lessons learned and recommendations in more detail in the citizens’ summary and in the full report:
A mid-term review of the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-2014 has been conducted by an external evaluation company: The Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services (CSES), UK. The review was carried out during the second half of 2015 to September 2016.
The overall objectives of the evaluation were to:
What are the EEA and Norway Grants?
The EEA and Norway Grants are the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe and strengthen bilateral relations with 15 European countries. Through the Grants, the three donor countries provided € 1.8 billion in the financing period 2009-2014. The EEA Grants (€993.5 million) are jointly financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and available in all 15 countries. The share of contributions is based on GDP, with Norway contributing 95.8%, Iceland 3.0% and Liechtenstein 1.2%. The Norway Grants (€804.6 million) are financed solely by Norway and are available in the 13 countries that joined the EU after 2003.
The objectives of the EEA and Norway Grants are two-fold: to reduce economic and social disparities in Europe and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor and beneficiary countries. The objectives are pursued through 148 programmes that support activities within a range of sectors, such as environment, climate change and green industry innovation. Other key areas of support are health, education, civil society, research and scholarships, justice and social dialogue.