Entering the programming phase
The work on the current round of the EEA and Norway Grants is well on its way. By the end of the year, almost all national priorities will have been agreed, and programmes will be established as of winter 2011/2012 onwards.
Agreements on country-specific priorities (Memoranda of Understanding - MoUs) have been signed between Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and 9 of the 15 beneficiary states. However, almost all MoUs for the remaining countries are expected to be signed by the end of November 2011.
The MoU is a framework agreement setting out how the funding should be implemented, and contains information on which areas will be supported in the respective countries. This is important information for those entities wanting to apply for funding, as it tells them whether their particular area of interest will receive funding or not.
Once the MoUs are signed, the beneficiary states start the work of developing programmes, with the first ones to be established during the winter of 2011/2012. Programme proposals will be appraised by the Financial Mechanism Office and approved by the donor states, before Programme Operators launch calls for project proposals. This will begin in the first countries as of early 2012.
Before this however, there are some preparatory steps which prospective project promoters can already start to take. An open call typically allows interested entities two months to prepare their applications. It is therefore advisable to use time before the call goes out to prepare the ground. As well as ensuring adequate resources for the work ahead, potential applicants should start by studying the objective and expected outcome(s) of a programme. Any project supported must be in line with this. The programme areas are presented here.
Also, a potential applicant for funding can explore possibilities for developing partnerships with entities from the donor states. Bilateral cooperation is an explicit objective of the Grants, and funds for networking and partner search shall be made available in funds both at the national level and at the programme level. Where donor programme partners are involved, they can also be of assistance.
Donor programme partners are expected to take part in more than half of the around 135 programmes to be established. They will cooperate closely with the national Programme Operators in preparing and implementating the programmes. Examples of such programme partners are the Norwegian Directorate of Nature Management, the Iceland Centre for Research and the National Agency for International Education Affairs of Liechtenstein.