Spain: 20 years of cooperation and solidarity
The achievements of the EEA Grants in Spain were celebrated at event held in Madrid on 9 June. Organised jointly by the Spanish Focal Point and the Norwegian Embassy, the event marked a watershed with the programmes drawing to a close after 20 years.
Spain was one of the original beneficiary countries of the EEA Grants. Since 1994, the country has received €375 million from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants. A total of 460 projects have been supported, benefitting thousands of people.
The event served as a forum both for celebrating success, as well as looking towards continued collaboration in the future. It brought together representatives from the three donor countries, the Spanish public administration, programme operators and project beneficiaries. A talented flamenco-jazz music group – funded under the cultural exchange programme – provided the musical entertainment.
A new publication “20 years of cooperation and solidarity: Spain 1994-2014” was also launched at the event. The book provides a vivid insight into the impact of the projects and recounts some of the many personal stories behind the numbers.
Speaking at the event, Ambassador Johan Vibe underlined how the programmes have been based on the shared values of “solidarity and cooperation”.
“For Norway, these 20 years have been extremely valuable for the mutual exchange of experiences and the creation of synergies between our two countries. Thanks to the collaboration facilitated by the EEA Grants, we have been able to strengthen our ties even more profoundly, ” said Ambassador Vibe.
Although the EEA Grants have had a relatively moderate impact at a macro-economic level – given the relatively small size of the funds when compared to the size of the Spanish economy and other sources of EU cohesion funding – the funding and exchange of experience with the donor partners has left a profound mark on certain sectors and especially at a local and regional level.
Pilar Soler from the National Focal Point, Spanish Ministry of Finance and Public Administration, emphasised how critical the funding has been, in particular during the recent period of economic crisis. She paid tribute to the enthusiasm and innovation of all the programme operators and project promoters:
“This evening we are taking stock of the results of the last funding period. But we know that none of this would have been possible without the contributions from the three donors and the dedication of all those involved in the Grants in Spain. We are very proud of all the successes.”
All photos: Yayo Pino