Communicating about the existence, partnership opportunities and achievements is key to transparency, accountability and a successful implementation of the Grants provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Conveying the objectives and ensuring visibility for the donors is an important responsibility for National Focal Points, Programme Operators and Project Promoters.
Coffey International Ltd. has been requested to assess the progress of implementation of communications strategies and plans across all 16 beneficiary countries, including identifying communications results and best practices. Their independent review is published today, and provides valuable recommendations for improved communications efforts and visibility of the donors and how the legal requirements on communications could be improved to ensure effective communications strategies and plans. The study was carried out over nine months, from October 2015 to July 2016.
- Several countries from Central and Eastern Europe perceive the requirements set out in the Regulations / Annex 4 as finite and intentionally do not carry out activities other than those explicitly listed therein. This means that there is scope to enhance the Regulations / Annex 4 to better meet their communications needs by including a clear, unambiguous explanation that the requirements are not intended to set limits to activities and that additional activities are encouraged.
- All of the beneficiary countries have dedicated websites in national languages and in English. However, the study highlights great variability, particular at programme and project level, which undermines the effort of showing the impact the Grants have in a consistent manner.
- There is a lack of consistency in the monitoring and evaluation frameworks, which translates into a lack of consistency in the presentation of the information provided across the beneficiary countries.
- One of the main challenges to perceptions and awareness-levels relates to the confusion with EU Structural Funds.
The review includes 11 recommendation proposed by Coffey International Ltd. The findings and recommendations have been taken into consideration in the preparation for the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021.
Key recommendations for improved visibility and how the legal requirements regarding communications can be improved in the future include:
- Refocusing the reporting obligations, with the actors having to report to higher levels, as opposed to higher levels monitoring lower levels.
- Encourage all actors involved to conduct additional communication activities on top of those listed in the Regulations / Annex 4.
- Support the development of a more consistent national monitoring and evaluation frameworks for communications activities across beneficiary countries.
- Create a common template for the Communications Strategies in order to facilitate the comparisons between beneficiary countries.
- Include a requirement that all websites presenting the Grants comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for the visually impaired.
You can read about the findings, lessons learned and the recommendations in more detail in the citizens’ summary and in the full report: