The EEAEnlargement Agreement, applicable since 1 May 2004, stipulates that onbecoming members of the European Union, the 10 accession countrieswould also become parties to the EEA Agreement. By signing the EEAEnlargement Agreement, the EEA EFTA States agreed to continue theirefforts to enhance cohesion within the European Economic Area and tofocus their efforts on the new Member States. To that effect, theyestablished the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian FinancialMechanism.
The ten new Member States will be eligible forassistance from both Mechanisms. The EEA Financial Mechanism will alsogrant assistance to Spain, Portugal and Greece. The Mechanisms willmake commitments from 1 May 2004 to 30 April 2009.
These twoMechanisms aim to enable the new Member States to participate fully inthe Internal Market and to reduce the social and economic disparitieswithin the EEA.
EEA Financial Mechanism
Protocol 38a establishing the EEA Financial Mechanism, was incorporated into the EEA Agreement by the EEA Enlargement Agreement.
TheEEA Financial Mechanism will make 600 million euros available forcommitments in annual tranches of 120 million euros over the commitmentperiod. This amount is a five-fold increase of the EFTA States'contribution under the EEA Financial Instrument 1999-2003. Grants areavailable for projects in the following sectors:
a) Protectionof the environment, including the human environment, through, interalia, reduction of pollution and promotion of renewable energy;
b) Promotion of sustainable development through improved resources use and management;
c) Conservation of European cultural heritage, including public transport, and urban renewal;
d)Human resources development through, inter alia, promotion of educationand training, strengthening of administrative or public servicecapacities of local government or its institutions as well as thedemocratic processes, which support it.
e) Health and childcare.
Academic research may also be eligible for funding in so far as it targets one or more of the priority sectors.
Norwegian Financial Mechanism
The Agreement between the Kingdom of Norway and the European Community, establishing the Norwegian Financial Mechanism was constituted at the same time as Protocol 38a, establishing the EEA Financial Mechanism.
TheNorwegian Financial Mechanism will make available 567 million euros forcommitments in annual tranches of 113.4 million euros over thecommitment period. Together the two Mechanisms will generate an almostten-fold increase of today's contribution. Grants are available forprojects in the same sectors as in the EEA Financial Mechanism.Priority will nevertheless be given to projects in the fields of:
Implementation of Schengen acquis, support of National Schengen Action Plans as well as strengthening the judiciary,
Environment,i.a. with emphasis on strengthening the administrative capacity toimplement relevant acquis and investments in infrastructure andtechnology with priority given to municipal waste management,
Regional policy and cross-border activities,
Technical assistance relating to the implementation of acquis communautaire.
Further information on the Norwegian Financial Mechanism is available at the website of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Althoughthe two Mechanisms are closely coordinated, decisions on the grantingof assistance are taken separately with each entity being responsiblefor the management of its own decisions.
Decisions on thegranting of assistance by the EEA Financial Mechanism are taken by theEEA Financial Mechanism Committee (the FMC), in which, each EFTA State,party to the EEA Agreement, is represented.
Decisions on thegranting of assistance by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism are takenby the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tofacilitate the close coordination foreseen for the two Mechanisms,identical procedures apply to both. Furthermore, a single FinancialMechanism Office (the FMO) has been established to assist in themanagement of the Mechanisms.
TheFMO reports to the FMC and to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairsrespectively. The Office is responsible for the day-to-day running ofthe two Mechanisms and serves as a contact point. The FMO cooperateswith the National Focal Points in the Beneficiary States, to whichapplications should be submitted. Potential applicants are advised toaddress their National Focal Point for information on the applicationprocess and to submit applications.