Strengthening cooperation between Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and the beneficiary countries is one of the two main objectives of the EEA and Norway Grants. In addition to traditional project partnership opportunities, strategic bilateral partnerships ensure more in-depth and sustainable bilateral cooperation.
A recent evaluation of bilateral cooperation under the Grants highlights the success in building stronger ties between the donor and the beneficiary countries. Seventy-two percent of the respondents believed the funding has strengthened bilateral relations to a high or very high extent.
Cooperation between people and institutions at administrative and political levels and in the private sector, academia and civil society is a prerequisite for strengthened bilateral relations. Such cooperation is facilitated and supported at all levels.
The Grants’ priority sectors reflect important areas of collaboration on the European and global agenda where the donor countries have expertise and interest in collaborating with the beneficiary countries. The forging of ties in a broad range of areas is expected to further strengthen cooperation between Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and the beneficiary countries after programmes or projects have ended.
More than half of the 150 programmes supported in the 09-14 programming period are implemented in cooperation with donor programme partners. Twenty-three entities from the donor countries, as well as the Council of Europe, are actively involved in the development and implementation of the programmes, working closely with their counterparts – the programme operators – in the beneficiary countries. Partnerships promote professional cooperation and sharing expertise between public authorities, and is important for achieving the objective of strengthened bilateral relations.
The role of the donor programme partners is to act as strategic advisers to the programme operators and contribute with their expertise to the programme planning and implementation. They also give advice on the selection of projects and inform possible project partners in the donor countries about partnership opportunities.
The Council of Europe is involved as a programme partner in 21 programmes.
Project partnerships between entities in the beneficiary and donor countries are encouraged in all programmes. In some of them, such as in the research and scholarship programmes, is mandatory to have project partners from the donor countries.
Within each programme incentives are available to stimulate such project partnerships.
How to participate?
Funding for projects is usually made available through open calls for proposals under each programme. The applicant should be a registered entity in the relevant beneficiary country or an intergovernmental organisation operating in the country. Entities from the donor countries may participate in the projects as partners. The cooperation needs to be detailed in a partnership agreement that details the respective roles and responsibilities as well as the budget to be allocated to each participating entity.
Most of the funding from the 09-14 programming period has been allocated. New calls in for the 14-21 period will presumably be published from early 2018 onwards depending on the status of negotiations with the beneficiary countries.
Funds are set aside in all beneficiary countries for developing bilateral cooperation and activities of common interest with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Bilateral funds support networking and foster partnerships and finance activities such as partner search, conferences, workshops, study tours as well as outreach activities and are a more flexible source of funding.
Funding may also be used for activities to enhance cooperation in areas of common interest identified by the donor and beneficiary countries. The activities may add value to the cooperation taking place within the programmes or go beyond the programmes.
In each beneficiary country, 0.5% of the total country allocation is set aside for activities of bilateral interest developing cooperation with the donor countries. These bilateral funds may support initiatives such as conferences, workshops, study tours, studies and reports, as well as outreach activities which could add value to and broaden the cooperation that takes place within the programmes. The funds may also provide a source of funding for initiatives of interest to both the donor and beneficiary countries going beyond the programmes.
The national Focal Points are in charge of managing these bilateral funds on the basis of work plans agreed with the donor countries. Find out more about the opportunities under the national bilateral funds in each of the beneficiary countries.
In the programmes, a minimum 1.5% of the budget is allocated to bilateral collaboration. This funding is intended to help facilitate the search for project partners, development of joint project applications, networking and exchange between project promoters and entities in the donor countries.
Dimensions of strengthened relations
In the context of the EEA and Norway Grants, strengthened bilateral relations are defined as:
|“Cooperation, joint results and increased mutual knowledge and understanding between donor and beneficiary countries as a function of the EEA and Norway Grants.”|
Bilateral relations are strengthened through different levels and results can be seen for example as:
- Extent of cooperation: Cooperation in programmes and projects between institutions and individuals through formal partnerships or for ad hoc exchanges.
- Shared results: Through cooperation the partners are working together to achieve joint results such as development of policies, laws, strategies or new knowledge or practice.
- Improved knowledge and mutual understanding: Bringing people and institutions together contributes to creating improved knowledge, trust and mutual understanding. It also increases the awareness of the EEA Agreement which largely extends the EU’s free movement of people, capital, goods and services to include the EEA EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
- Wider effects: As a result of working together, the networks and partnerships that are established may lead to further cooperation beyond the EEA and Norway Grants funded projects and programmes. This could be by developing initiatives addressing common European challenges through partnerships under other European funding schemes or joint initiatives in intergovernmental organisations.