A hectic season for the EEA and Norway Grants
So far, projects worth more than €700 million have been approved under the EEA and Norway Grants. By 30 April 2009, projects and funds amounting to an additional €400 million in grants are expected to be approved. Over the coming months there will be hectic activity on many sides to bring the current grant schemes to an end and prepare for new ones.
The EEA and Norway Grants represent the €1.3 billion in support from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to projects in the public benefit in Central and Southern Europe. The two grant schemes were established in 2004 when 10 countries joined not only the EU, but also the European Economic Area (EEA). The aims of the two grant schemes are to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe, assist new EU members with their integration into the Internal Market and strengthen political and economic ties between the 15 beneficiary states and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
To date, close to €1 billion have been made available to potential applicants through more than 30 open calls for individual projects. All the calls for individual projects are now closed, and the countries that just rounded off their calls are busy short-listing the applications to be forwarded for appraisal by the FMO and donor approval. Several hundred projects are expected to be forwarded to the FMO prior to the 30 April 2009 commitment deadline.
However, the many block grants or “funds” established within the beneficiary states still offer funding possibilities for applicants. Many of these funds target non-governmental organisations and other civil society actors, as well as cultural and educational cooperation between Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and the beneficiary states.
The EEA and Norway Grants are meant to be complimentary to EU programmes, something that has given the beneficiary states an opportunity to steer the grant schemes towards smaller-scale projects. A new report shows that the EEA and Norway Grants have been warmly welcomed by the beneficiary states. By end September, negotiations between the European Commission and the three donor states are expected to start with regards to a new grant scheme for the period after 30 April 2009.