Mid-term evaluation of the EEA and Norway Grants
The EEA and Norway Grants have been warmly appreciated in the beneficiary states, according to a new report. The funds have been highly visible and the many open calls for project proposals have spurred strong interest.
The mid-term evaluation was commissioned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) on request from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) to provide input to the continued implementation of the current grant schemes and to the planning of future grant schemes.
The evaluation is comprehensive in scope, covering all fifteen beneficiary states, with case studies in three beneficiary states: the Czech Republic, Estonia and Poland. The analysis covers the period from inception in 2004 until end of March 2008.
Key overall findings
• The grants have been welcomed very enthusiastically by the beneficiaries and the demonstrated in-country demand is high.
• Despite some successes, there are considerable inefficiencies in implementation, which have led to significant delays.
• Objectives at program level are vaguely defined and are not supported by indicators and targets.
• According to the report, funds and programmes appear to be most successful. They have a programmatic approach, clear prioritisation, objectives and targets.
• Timely accomplishment of disbursement targets is at risk due to delays in initial implementation.
For the remainder of the programming period:
• There is a need to devote resources to ensuring timely commitment of the outstanding amount, and a speedy disbursement of the remaining 97 percent of the allocation.
• Mechanism to aggregate project level indicators and better link these with program level objectives should be strengthened so that program level progress can be determined.
• The reviewers suggest that more responsibility be delegated to the beneficiary states when it comes to the appraisal of applications, selection of projects and monitoring of implementation.
For future programming
• There is a need to establish clear objectives, indicators and targets at the program level and ensure sufficient linkages with country programs and with individual projects.
• Future financial mechanism should apply the principles of additionality and proportionality in order to avoid donor replication of country processes when adequate capacity exists at country level. The donors may consider using existing risk and capacity assessment conducted by other partners.
• The donors should consider adopting a programmatic approach where programs and their objectives and targets would be negotiated bilaterally with beneficiary states.
• The implementation could rely on country systems where sufficient capacity exists, with beneficiary states responsible for financial management and monitoring, as is customary in EU regional policy.
• The beneficiaries would be accountable for results and reporting to donors. Such an approach would realize significant efficiency gains, sacrifice little in terms of quality and control, and contribute to more country-level ownership; and ultimately promote the objectives of lowering social and economic disparities in EEA.