Norway and Slovakia signed agreements on EEA and Norway Grants
Norway and Slovakia have today signed agreements for the EEA Grants and Norway Grants totalling €80.75 million. Flood protection, climate change, supporting civil society and combating domestic violence are among the priorities.
On Tuesday 26 October, Norway’s Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre and Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová signed the Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) outlining the priorities for the grants for the period 2009-14. In Iceland and Liechtenstein, the agreement for the EEA Grants is expected to be approved by the parliaments in the near future.
In Slovakia, the EEA Grants (€38.35 mln) and Norway Grants (€42.4 mln) 2009-14 will target environmental and climate change issues, such as prevention of flooding and carbon capture and storage, and efforts aimed at reducing domestic violence, strengthening civil society, fostering social dialogue, providing scholarships, and promoting cross-border cooperation.
First country to sign agreements
“We are very pleased to sign these agreements on this special occasion. They provide a unique opportunity to strengthen relations between Norway and Slovakia”, said Foreign Minister Støre.
Prime Minister Radičová took the opportunity to stress that she highly appreciates the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to the reduction of disparities in Europe. “I am pleased that Slovak Republic is the first of the 15 beneficiary states to sign the MoUs,” she said.
Radičová underlined the potential of the grants to build contact and cooperation between different stakeholders in the donor states and in Slovakia, and help to improve living conditions in Slovakia.
Strong environmental focus
Environment and climate change is the largest priority area under the new agreements. A total of €31 million is earmarked for programmes for the adaption to climate change, carbon capture and storage and green industry innovation. “This field is a priority for Norway, and many Norwegian institutions such as Innovation Norway have a great deal of expertise and experience to offer as potential programme partners”, Støre said.
Civil society, social dialogue and cross-border cooperation
Slovak civil society organisations will welcome the decision to allocate more than €8 million to establish a new fund for non-governmental organisations. A new addition in the 2009-14 period is a €424,000 Norway Grants programme for the promotion of decent work and tripartite dialogue between employers’ organisations, trade unions and public authorities.
The agreements also include substantial support to cross-border cooperation, with a view to strengthen contact and cooperation with countries across the EU external border. Programmes will also be set up to provide funding in the field of conservation and revitalisation of cultural and natural heritage and to provide scholarships to students and teachers.
A special focus on the Roma population and their challenges will be included in relevant programmes.
Aim to strengthen cooperation
One of the aims of the agreements is to strengthen bilateral cooperation through programme and project partnerships Many Icelandic, Liechtenstein and Norwegian institutions are ready and keen to cooperate with their Slovak counterparts. The further details of the programme partnerships will be decided by Slovakia and the donor states after the agreements have been concluded.
All photos: Boris Strizenec, National Focal Point, Slovak Republic.