More about the EEA and Norway Grants

1. What are the EEA and Norway Grants?

The Grants represent funding from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to 15 European Union (EU) countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics to reduce economic and social disparities in Europe, and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor and beneficiary countries. The Grants are linked to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) which includes a shared goal to work together to reduce economic and social disparities in the EEA. The EEA Grants are financed jointly by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The Norway Grants on the other hand are financed by Norway alone.

In total, the donors have provided €3.3 billion through consecutive grant schemes between 1994 and 2014. Of this, €1.8 billion was channelled through 150 programmes in 16 countries the period 2009–2014. Over 6 000 projects received support. Projects financed during this period were implemented until April 2017. Read about results and project stories on www.eeagrants.org and www.norwaygrants.si. A further €2.8 billion has been made available in the current 2014–2021 funding period. The programmes will run until 2024.

2. What is the European Economic Area?

The EEA binds together the 27 EU member countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as equal partners in the internal market. The foundation lies in the

EEA agreement

The EEA includes the four freedoms of the internal market (free movement of goods, persons, services and capital) and related policies (in the fields of competition, transport, energy and economic and monetary cooperation). Their citizens have the same right to work, study and live in any EEA member country. The EEA Agreement also covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and innovation, education, culture and the environment.

3. What is the difference between the EEA Grants and the Norway Grants?

The difference between the EEA Grants and the Norway Grants is the funding source. The EEA Grants are financed jointly by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The contribution of each country is based on their economic size. This means that Norway funds approximately 96% of the EEA Grants, Iceland 3% and Liechtenstein 1%. All 15 beneficiary countries receive support from the EEA Grants.

The Norway Grants on the other hand are financed by Norway alone. The Norway Grants are limited to the 13 countries which joined the EU after 2004 (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia).

4. Are the EEA and Norway Grants funded by the EU?

No, the EEA and Norway Grants are not an EU funding scheme. The Grants are financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway which are not member states of the European Union.

5. What are the objectives of the Grants?

The objectives are two-fold: to reduce economic and social disparities in Europe, and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor and beneficiary countries. Reducing gaps between countries in the EEA not only improves the functioning of the internal market, but also contributes to building a stronger Europe based on equality and solidarity.

6. How much are the Grants worth?

In the 2014–2021 funding period, the Grants amount to €2.8 billion. The EEA Grants (€1.5 million) are jointly financed by all three donors and available in all 15 countries. The Norway Grants (€1.3 million) are financed solely by Norway and available in the 13 countries that joined the EU after 2003.

7. How much funding from the EEA and Norway Grants is allocated to Slovenia?

A total of EUR 37.7 million is made available to Slovenia in the period 2014−2021, of which EUR 19.9 million comes from the EEA Grants and EUR 17.8 million from the Norway Grants.

Slovenia received almost EUR 27 million from the EEA and Norway Grants in the period 2009–2014 and over EUR 17 million in the period 2004–2009.

8. Which countries benefit?

The EEA and Norway Grants are allocated to the countries with the weakest economic performance in the EU. This is defined as the countries whose Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is less than 90% of the EU average.

The 15 countries eligible for funding are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Spain received only transitional funding in the 2009–2014 period and is no longer eligible for the 2014–2021 period.

9. Are projects funded in Africa, Asia or anywhere else outside of Europe?

No, the funding is limited to 15 countries in Europe: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia.

The only exception of this is the Fund for Youth Employment which allows participation from Ireland, Italy and Spain, and the Fund for Regional Cooperation which allows participation from the following countries: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Both the Fund for Youth Employment and the Fund for Regional Cooperation issued calls for project proposals in 2017/2018 and have now been closed for applications. No decision has been made on more calls in the future in these two funds.

10. What are the areas of support?

For the period 2014–2021, five priority sectors have been agreed between the donor countries and the EU. These reflect the priorities of the EU and aim to respond to the shared challenges facing Europe.

  • Innovation, Research, Education and Competitiveness
  • Social Inclusion, Youth Employment and Poverty Reduction
  • Environment, Energy, Climate Change and Low Carbon Economy
  • Culture, Civil Society, Good Governance and Fundamental Rights
  • Justice and Home Affairs

A new feature is the establishment of regional funds to tackle youth unemployment and promote regional cooperation.

11. How were the topics which the EEA and Norway Grants support defined?

The five priority sectors and twenty-three programme areas were agreed between Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and the European Union for the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021. The funding priorities reflect the Europe 2020 strategy, EU cohesion policy, and the results of reviews and evaluations of previous funding periods.

The priority sectors and programme areas are described in the EEA and Norway Grants blue book. The three donor countries launched a broad public consultation on the draft blue book in May 2016. The consultation consisted of a web-based public consultation open to all potential partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries of the Grants, and a consultation directly with the main partners of the Grants in each of the beneficiary countries – the National Focal Points, the public entities with overall responsibility for implementation and reaching the objectives of the Grants in each beneficiary country. Over 700 respondents completed the consultation. The results of the consultation process are outlined in the summary of the blue book consultation.

12. Are the funded topics the same in all the countries?

The 15 beneficiary countries have different needs and priorities, therefore funded topics are not the same in all the countries. . The EEA and Norway Grants support is therefore decided through negotiations between each beneficiary state and the three donor states. Slovenia negotiated with the donor countries about the selection of the priority and programme areas as well.

13. Which areas are supported by the EEA and Norway Grants in Slovenia?

Slovenia will use the EEA and Norway Grants for the following programme areas within three priority areas:

  • Innovation, Research, Education and Competitiveness:
    • Education and Training, Scholarships, Apprenticeships and Youth Entrepreneurship;
    • Work-life Balance;
    • Social Dialogue and Decent Work.
  • Environment, Energy, Climate Change and Low Carbon Economy:
    • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation;
    • Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Security.
  • Culture, Civil Society, Good Governance and Fundamental Rights:
    • Good Governance, Accountable Institutions, Transparency;
    • Civil Society.

14. How do the Grants promote cooperation?

Partnerships between organisations in the donor and beneficiary countries are widely encouraged. This brings mutual benefits, facilitating exchange and strengthening links across borders. A number of international organisations, like the Council of Europe, are also involved as partners in programmes and projects.

15. How do the EEA and Norway Grants work?

Each partner country agrees on a set of programmes with the donors, based on needs and priorities, and the scope for cooperation.

The EEA and Norway Grants are channelled through programmes and funds. Each beneficiary country has several programmes and funds which address issues in different areas. Every programme has a clear objective – this means that all projects funded through a specific programme need to contribute to reaching the programme’s objective. This makes the funding more strategic and focused. It also makes it easier to establish more strategic partnerships between Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and the 15 beneficiary states.

A National Focal Point is responsible for the overall management of programmes in each country. Programme Operators develop and implement the programmes, often in cooperation with a public institution from a donor country and award funding to projects.

16. Which programmes and funds are supported by the EEA and Norway Grants in Slovenia?

Five programmes and funds are implemented in Slovenia:

17. Who can benefit from funding?

  • National and local authorities
  • NGOs and civil society organisations
  • Private and public enterprises
  • Educational and research institutions
  • Students and teaching staff
  • Social partners

18. Who is involved in the management and implementation of the EEA and Norway Grants?

Public institutions in the donor and beneficiary countries share responsibility for the EEA and Norway Grants.

Each beneficiary country has a National Focal Point, most often a ministry, which has the overall responsibility of the Grants. Each country also has several programme operators which are responsible for making the funding available to applicants through calls for proposals, appraising applications, selecting and monitoring projects. Beneficiary country holds the responsibility for establishing the management and control systems. This includes a certifying authority, an audit authority and an irregularity authority. n some programmes and funds, the Financial Mechanism Office is entrusted with the role of Programme Operator. In these cases, the implementation of the programme or fund is normally performed by an external Fund Operator selected through an open tender process by the donor countries.

The Financial Mechanism Committee is the decision-making body for the EEA Grants. The committee consists of representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the decision-making body for the Norway Grants. The Financial Mechanism Office is the Brussels-based secretariat for the Grants which serves as a contact point between the donor and beneficiary countries. The donor Embassies in the beneficiary countries, in particular those of Norway, take part in the dialogue between the donor and beneficiary countries.

Donor Programme Partners are entities from the donor countries are partners in the programmes that provide expertise and strategic advice on programme planning and implementation and as well as facilitate networking and help project promoters find project partners in donor countries. The similar role play International Partners Organizations; in the period 2014 – 2021 these are the Council of Europe, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the OECD.

19. About the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation programme

The objective of the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Programme is to mitigate climate change and reduce vulnerability to climate change. The programme aims to accelerate planning, strengthen institutional capacity, and support the implementation of pilot/demonstration measures that will contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation at local, regional and national levels. The measures focus on sustainable mobility, restoration of the Natura 2000 Network ecosystems, circular economy, and promotion of use of geothermal energy and other less well-established renewable energy sources.

The programme is co-financed by the Norway Grants (EUR 2.5 million), the EEA Grants (EUR 12 million) and the corresponding Slovenian contribution (EUR 2.6 million). Projects are selected through a public call.

Programme Operator is the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy. Norwegian Environmental Agency participates in the programme as the Donor Programme Partner.

20. About the Education – Enhancing Human Capital programme

The programme Education – Enhancing Human Capital whose objective is to improve human capital and knowledge base aims at strengthening human capital, supporting the development of 21st century competences, improving the relevance of education and training to the real environment, and encouraging the development of supportive measures for inclusion in life and work of specific groups that are excluded or have limited access to support systems. Furthermore, the programme encourages the development of measures facilitating the reconciliation between work and personal life at the local level, and strengthening the capacity of institutions for good governance, cross-sectoral and inter-ministerial cooperation.

The programme is co-financed by the Norway Grants (EUR 12 million), the EEA Grants (EUR 1,5 million) and the corresponding Slovenian contribution (EUR 2.4 million). Projects are selected through a public call. Children’s House, a pre-defined project, is being implemented as well.

Programme Operator is the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy. The Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education and the National Agency of International Education Affairs (AIBA) from Liechtenstein participate in the programmes as the Donor Programme Partner.

21. About the Fund for Bilateral Relations

The purpose of the Fund for Bilateral Relations is to finance bilateral activities whose content exceeds the selected programme areas. Part of the resources of the Fund for Bilateral Relations is also allocated to the Education – Enhancing Human Capital programme and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation programme. The Joint Committee of the Fund for Bilateral Relations, which consists of the National Focal Point and the representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of donor states and the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, decides on the implementation of the Fund.

The fund is managed by the National Focal Point – the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy. 754.000 EUR of the EEA and Norway Grants has been allocated to the fund.

22. About the Active Citizens Fund

The overall objective of the Active Citizens Fund, implemented in each beneficiary state, is ‘Civil society and active citizenship strengthened and vulnerable groups empowered’. In the period of 2014–2021 emphasis of the fund is put on long-term sustainable development and capacity building of NGO sector. Enabling that, donor countries aim at strengthening the role of NGOs in promotion of democratic governance of the country, inclusion of public in decision-making processes on national and local level, and strengthening human rights. An important priority of the fund is also strengthening cooperation between Slovenian civil society organisations and organisations from donor countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Active Citizens Fund in Slovenia will allocate 2,5 million EUR of the EEA Grants in four open calls for projects of NGOs in Slovenia: medium and large projects, micro or “rapid response” project, institutional support, small projects.

Active Citizens Fund 2014-2021 in Slovenia is managed by CNVOS – Centre for Information Service, Co-operation and Development of NGOs, in consortium with Institute PIP – Legal and Information Centre Maribor, and Society for the Advancement of Voluntary Work Novo mesto – DRPD Novo mesto.

23. About the Social Dialogue – Decent Work programme

The objective of Social Dialogue – Decent Work programme is strengthened tripartite cooperation between employer organisations, trade unions and public authorities and the promotion of decent work.

It supports social dialogue and contributes to improved decent work practices and to facilitate access to employment. The Programme also seeks to stimulate and develop long‐term cooperation between Norway and Beneficiary States.

Innovation Norway is the Fund Operator for the programme on behalf of the Financial Mechanisms Office (FMO). 178.000 EUR of the Norway Grants is allocated to the Programme for Slovenia. 44 projects from 11 countries have been selected on first public calls with a total grant of Euro 5,9 million. One project is being implemented in Slovenia.

24. About the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment

The EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment is available to transnational projects addressing youth employment involving the beneficiary countries and Ireland, Italy and Spain. The Fund Operator is Ecorys Polska.

The Fund has three principal support areas: innovation and exploration; transfer of know-how and good practice; and analysis and research. The target groups of the Fund are young people between 15 and 29, with a special focus on the 25-29 year olds.

EUR 60.6 million of the EEA and Norway Grants was allocated to the Fund. 26 projects has been selected for co-financing, Slovenian partners are cooperating in five projects. Results of the project are available at the Youth Employment Magazine website.

25. About the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation

The EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation supports transnational cooperation to address European challenges across the priority sectors of the EEA and Norway Grants, in particular in the areas of knowledge sharing, policy exchange of best practice and institutional capacity-building. The Fund Operator is Ecorys Polska.

The Fund will be made available to transnational projects involving beneficiary countries and the neighbouring third countries Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

EUR 34,5 million of the EEA and Norway Grants was allocated to the Fund. 20 projects has been selected for co-financing, Slovenian partners are cooperating in five projects.