“We are pleased that the agreement on the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14 can finally be signed. These funds are a substantial contribution towards reducing social and economic disparities in Europe. We now look forward to starting with the implementation,” said the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
With the finalisation of the agreement, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will draw up a legal framework for the implementation of the EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14. The rules and regulations will build on the experience of the previous grant schemes and on consultations with the beneficiary states.
Once the legal framework has been agreed on, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will conduct negotiations with the respective beneficiary states on which thematic fields will receive funding, culminating in the signing of individual Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs). Projects will be financed through programmes that are expected to be launched from 2011 onwards.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will provide €357.7 million per year or a total sum of €1.79 billion in the 5 year period. Norway provides 97% of the total funding.
The EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14 come at a time when many of the beneficiary states are faced with a difficult economic situation. “It is in Norway’s interest to contribute to economic and social development in these countries,” Foreign Minister Støre said.
The EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14 will support projects within the fields of environmental protection and management, climate change and renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, green industry innovation, research and scholarship, protection of cultural heritage, civil society, promotion of decent work and tripartite dialogue, justice and home affairs, and human and social development.
Norway will now enter into dialogue with all recipient countries about which areas to be covered in each country. It is natural that the profile and priorities in different countries are different. When it is agreed with each country is the allotment of funds for the various priority areas . It is expected that the announcement of funds and programs will begin in 2011.
– With the new EEA funds , we have an historic opportunity to strengthen cooperation with the EU's newest member countries. Many countries are struggling with high unemployment , and a difficult financial situation. It is in Norwegian interest to contribute to economic and social development in these countries, said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store .
The Norwegian funds will support the projects in environment and climate change , green business , health , research , education and cultural heritage , employment and civil society and the justice area.
It is also agreed on a further improvement of market access for fish in the period 2009-2014 with EU. Norway and the European Union signed a separate agreement on this issue.