Estonia and Norway sign EEA funds deal

Norway and Estoniasigned o­n 17 November 2004 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for theNorwegian Financial Mechanism, which makes available close to 23million euros over a five-year period for projects in Estonia aiming toreduce social and economic disparities within the newly enlargedEuropean Economic Area (EEA).

The MoU was signedby State Secretary, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Traavik o­n behalf ofNorway, and by Finance Minister Taavi Veskimagi o­n behalf of Estoniaduring a seminar held in Tallinn, Estonia attended by some 200representatives from both countries. The seminar focused in particularo­n priority sectors such as regional development, health andchildcare, the environment and sustainable development.

TheNorwegian Financial Mechanism and the closely-related EEA FinancialMechanism were established under the EEA Enlargement Agreement in Maythis year, and will make a total 1.17 billion euros available over afive-year period to the 10 new EU Member States, and to Spain, Portugaland Greece. It is expected that Estonia will sign an MoU with the threeEEA EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway for the EEAFinancial Mechanism in the near future, which will make available anadditional 10 million euros over the five-year period.

The EEA Agreement makes the EEA EFTA states Norway, Iceland andLiechtenstein part of the Internal Market, which was expanded from 18to 28 member states at the same time as the EU enlargement in May. TheEEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanismestablished under the EEA Enlargement Agreement aim to reduce socialand economic disparities in the EEA area.

TheEEA Financial Mechanism makes funds available to the ten countrieswhich joined the EU in May, and to Spain, Portugal and Greece. TheNorwegian Financial Mechanism makes funds available to the ten new EUmember states. In total, the two mechanisms make availableapproximately 1.17 billion euros over a five-year period to the 13countries eligible for funding. Both mechanisms are administered by theFinancial Mechanism Office in Brussels, which is affiliated to theEuropean Free Trade Association (EFTA) Secretariat.