"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, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will enter into a dialogue with the individual beneficiary states regarding the thematic fields that will receive funding, culminating in the signing of individual memoranda of understanding. The next phase will be the rollout of the programmes. Projects will be financed through programmes that are expected to be launched from 2011 onwards.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will provide EUR 357.7 million per year or a total sum of EUR 1 788.5 million over the five year period. Norway will provide EUR 347 million annually, amouting to 97% of the total funding.
The EEA and Norway Grants 2009-14 come at a time when many of the beneficiary states are facing a difficult economic situation. "The new EEA and Norway Grants give us an historic opportunity to strengthen our cooperation with the newest EU Member States. Many of these countries are struggling with high unemployment and a difficult economic situation. It is in Norway's interests to promote economic and social development in these countries," said Foreign Minister Støre.
"The funding from Norway is targeted at areas where we can make a difference and that are in line with Norwegian and European interests," said Foreign Minister Støre, and he encouraged Norwegian actors to become involved in projects with partners in beneficiary countries.
The funds are to be used to support projects in the fields of environmental protection and climate change, green industry innovation, health, research and scholarship, cultural heritage, decent work and civil society, and justice and home affairs. An important new element in the agreement is the focus on decent work and tripartite dialogue.
Photo: Council of the European Union
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