Sharp increase in monitoring
More than 700 projects are now ongoing in 15 EU member states under the EEA and Norway Grants. The number of grants will increase to 1200 by next year, and as the projects progress, they come under the spotlight for monitoring.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway put great stress on the need for transparency and strict financial control in order to achieve the main aims of the EEA and Norway Grants and to ensure the success of each supported project. In addition to the continuous project monitoring carried out by the beneficiary states, the Financial Mechanism Office (FMO), the day-to-day secretariat for the grant schemes, will now increase its on-the-spot checks.
Beneficiary states in the lead
All projects that have been awarded grants have been through a rigorous selection and appraisal process both at beneficiary state and donor state level. Throughout each project's life span, grant reimbursements are made on the basis of incurred costs, and the project promoters submit regular progress reports to their national Focal Points. The beneficiary states are thus in the driving seat in terms of implementing the grant schemes, and they also have the financial responsibility of ensuring that the funds are not misspent.
Joint monitoring of selected projects
To support the work of the beneficiary states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway carry out additional monitoring of selected projects through the FMO. The FMO's monitoring spotlight is put on grants larger than €2.5 million, projects which are considered to be at risk, in addition to a five percent random selection of all supported projects each year.
"While the national Focal Points do the main share of work connected to the financial aspects - checking all receipts and invoices to make sure that the money is spent according to plan - we focus on the overall aspects on a monitoring visit. Did the project do what it was set out to do?" explained Emily Harwit-Whewell, project officer at the FMO and responsible for the secretariat's monitoring work.
While some 20 projects were monitored by the FMO during 2008, this figure is expected to increase four-fold over the next year. According to Harwit-Whewell, the FMO will gear its monitoring work for 2009 towards the project development, in terms of management, implementation issues and results. "The idea is not really to verify how the złotys or euros were spent, as the Focal Points already do that. The aim is rather to pick up on issues at the monitoring visits that should be resolved to ensure project success", she said.
Further information on the monitoring work under the EEA and Norway Grants:
•u0009Who's minding the store: detailed overview of the monitoring and control systems in place
• Reporting and monitoring guidelines
•u0009FMO External monitoring guidelines