Exchanging skills and know-how
Nearly 430 000 people across Europe will benefit from training and capacity building initiatives supported by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the EEA and Norway Grants support 225 smaller development projects through 5 funds for capacity building in the public sector.
A key goal of the human resource development and training programmes taking place on local and regional level across Central and Southern Europe is the improvement of public services.
In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania specific funds for regional development have been set up to enhance the efficiency and quality of public service delivery at regional and local level. Grants are awarded to support expert exchanges between municipalities in the donor states and in these three beneficiary states, development of public-private partnerships and local government capacity building.
Employee and expert exchanges and cooperation projects between local and regional authorities in the beneficiary and donor states are of mutual benefit. The parties involved are familiarised with new solutions, other approaches and working methods, which may in turn be adapted and put to good use at home.
A case in point is the cooperation project between Estonia's Pärnumaa County and Norway's Buskerud County under the Estonian local and regional development fund. Pärnumaa is seeking out new solutions within administrative management and welfare for the elderly. Such cooperation is of mutual benefit, says Kåre Henning, International Project Advisor at Buskerud County. "Pärnumaa has a highly developed study advisory and careers counselling system in secondary schools. Headmasters and advisors from secondary schools in Buskerud have cooperated closely with Estonian colleagues in developing and introducing such a system in Buskerud", concludes Henning.
Introducing new ways of funding
In Latvia, a separate short-term expert exchange fund has been set up to encourage cooperation and knowledge exchange between Latvian institutions and their counterparts in the donor states. A large number of the projects target environmental protection in Latvia and regional development.
Among Latvia's most innovative funds under the EEA and Norway Grants is a scheme for developing public-private partnerships (PPPs). Public-private partnerships can facilitate the realisation of projects that are too big or costly to be implemented by public authorities alone. The Municipality of Limbai in northern Latvia has received support to prepare a PPP project aimied at constructing a new regional library and sports centre.
11 000 Lithuanian civil servants involved
In Lithuania, more than 11 000 Lithuanian civil servants participate in activities under projects supported by the capacity strengthening fund and the regional cooperation fund. The regional cooperation fund has been set up to foster cooperation between Lithuania and Norway in the field of regional development. The fund supports close to 70 projects within areas such as educational cooperation, exchange of experience on local authorities' dialogue with communities, business promotion, and development of regional waste management systems. Several Norwegian public agencies, research institutes, associations, municipalities and counties participate as partners.
Photo: Public institution 'Ideas of wellness', Lithuania