1 January 1994
The Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement) enters into force. The Agreement brings together the 28 EU Member States and the EEA EFTA States — Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway — in a single market, referred to as the "internal market".
In connection to this, the EEA and Norway Grants are established. The objective of the Grants is to reduce social and economic disparities in the EEA, strengthen bilateral relations between the donor and beneficiary countries, and to put the beneficiary countries in a better position to make use of the internal market.
The Financial Mechanism 1994-1998
The Financial Mechanism 1994-1998, covers Greece, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Projects are supported within the fields of environmental protection, education and training, and transport. In addition to €500 million in project support, interest rebates are granted on loans amounting to €1.5 billion in the European Investment Bank (EIB).
1 January 1995
Finland, Sweden and Austria, who until now have been members of EFTA, leave the association to join the EU. The European Commission takes over responsibilities for the contributions of these three countries to the Financial Mechanism 1994-1998.
The Financial Instrument 1999-2003
Greece, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Spain receive €119.6 million in support. Projects are supported within the field of environmental protection, urban renewal, pollution in urban areas, protection of cultural heritage, transport, education, and academic research. About 93% of the funding is spent on projects related to environmental protection.
EEA and Norway Grants 2004-2009
Ireland and Northern Ireland no longer receive funding. However, with the enlargement of the EU in 2004, ten new countries – Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – not only join the EU, but also the European Economic Area (EEA).
The enlargements require a substantial increase in the contributions towards European cohesion. Most of the new member states are considerably below the EU average level of social and economic development. To illustrate, the 10 states joining the EU in 2004 have 75 million inhabitants, but a joint GDP below the one of Norway and Switzerland combined with merely 12 million inhabitants. The allocation in this five-year period is increased to €1.3 billion.
1 January 2007
Bulgaria and Romania join the EU, leading to an additional enlargement of the EEA and of the EEA and Norway Grants. This brings the total number of beneficiary countries to fifteen.
EEA and Norway Grants 2009-2014
The funding now amounts to €1.8 billion. To ensure a more strategic and sustainable impact, a programme approach is introduced. With this approach, all funding is channelled through multi-annual programmes. Following its accession to the EU, Croatia agreement was reached on Croatia’s entry to the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2014. This makes Croatia the 16th beneficiary country.
The programmes support projects in areas such as environmental protection and management, climate change and renewable energy, justice and home affairs, research and scholarships, civil society, green industry innovation, culture, decent work, and human and social development. Projects funded in this period are implemented until 2016/2017.
The EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021
A total of €2.8 billion is provided through the same multi-annual programme approach. The funding period has been lengthened from five to seven years. Spain is no longer a beneficiary country, reducing the number of beneficiary countries to fifteen.
The supported areas remain largely similar to those of the previous funding period. The €34.5 million EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation and the €65.5 million EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment are introduced as new features.