The evaluation of bilateral cooperation in the EEA and Norway Grants was carried out between March 2023 and September 2023. Its objective is to assess the effectiveness and sustainability of the current setup and work related to bilateral cooperation. This includes how and to what extent the current setup is conducive to reaching the bilateral objective of the Grants and how the setup could be improved to better reach the objective. The evaluation investigates how stakeholders understand the bilateral objective and how it is operationalised in bilateral initiatives, programmes, and projects, with particular attention to understanding and operationalising cooperation at the project level. This includes an assessment of whether the rules, regulations, and guidelines that apply to the bilateral cooperation are clear and accessible. Additionally, the evaluation explores the role of the Donor Programme Partners and how it could be enhanced. The evaluation also considers the sustainability of the bilateral cooperation supported by the Grants.
The evaluation is based on a sample of 11 programmes, 33 partnership projects and 33 bilateral initiatives. The projects cover all five priority sectors in six Beneficiary States, namely Bulgaria, Czechia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, and Romania. The data was gathered through desk research, as well as interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders. Surveys were also conducted among Programme Operators of all programmes implemented in partnership in the selected six countries, and among promoters and partners of all projects and bilateral initiatives with donor partners.
The evaluation report presents the findings within 10 evaluation questions and conclusions and recommendations for the future.