EU Programmes with EEA EFTA Participation

The EEA Agreement ensures participation by the three EEA EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) in a number of EU programmes.

From EU programmes to EEA programmes

The participation of the EEA EFTA States in EU programmes is an important part of their integration in the Internal Market and a key instrument for cooperation between the Members States and the EU in a wide range of areas. Click here for EEA EFTA States Programme participation in a nutshell, including their rights and obligations.

Article 78 of the Agreement states that the EU and the EEA EFTA States “shall take the necessary steps to develop, strengthen or broaden cooperation on matters falling outside of the four freedoms, where such cooperation is considered likely to contribute to the attainment of the objectives of [the] Agreement, or is otherwise deemed by the Contracting Parties to be of mutual interest”. This mutual obligation is fulfilled by the EEA EFTA States’ participation in EU programmes.

The Participation of the EEA EFTA States in the EU Programmes is formalised by the inclusion of each respective programme regulation, in which the EEA EFTA States agree to participate in, into Protocol 31 of the EEA Agreement.

The impact of this participation has been substantial. It has meant, for example, that scientists from the EFTA States participate in international cooperation on the same basis as their counterparts in EU Member States. Students are able to broaden their horizons through exchange programmes with universities all over Europe. Employment authorities have a venue in which to meet with their pan-European counterparts. Start-ups and small- and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have access to funding from a communal European pot, cultural institutions have participated in film, theatre or music projects to name but a few examples of cooperation. The EEA EFTA State´s participation in the EU Programmes has had a tangible effect on businesses, research institutions, students, workers, artists and consumers in the EFTA States and has enabled EFTA and EU participants to learn from each other and take advantage of the expertise and best practices that exist in a wide range of areas.

The Financial Contribution

The modalities for the EEA EFTA financial contribution are set down in Article 82 of the EEA Agreement. The financial contribution takes the form of a multiannual commitment by the EEA EFTA States to make annual payments towards the programmes for which they have established participation. The annual EEA EFTA budget is adopted within this framework and allows its contributors (the EU and the EEA EFTA States) to carry out common policies over a period long enough to make them effective. Each payment is established as a proportion of the EU’s annual budget towards the specific EEA programmes. The proportionality factor varies from year to year and is based on the relative size of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the EEA EFTA States compared to the total GDP of the European Economic Area.

EEA EFTA participation in the 2014-2020 programming period
The EEA EFA States have, since 2014, been participating in a range of EU Programmes under the 2014-2020 MFF. The focus areas for the programming period follow the main policy structure outlined in the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy, defining activities under:

  • Sustainable growth
  • Preservation and management of natural resources
  • Citizenship, freedom, security and justice
  • The EU as a global player

The MFF 2014-2020 is characterised by an increase in spending on innovation and research, a new fund for financing infrastructure called the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and an integrated programme for education, training, youth and sport.

The EEA EFTA commitment to the MFF 2014-2020 has been approximately EUR 2.73 billion according to the annual EEA EFTA budgets during the period 2014-2020.

Overall the EEA EFTA States have participated in 15 programmes under the MFF 2014-2020, either fully or partially.

The table below outlines the different policy areas and corresponding programmes for the 2014-2020 period in which the EEA EFTA States are participating, based on the decisions taken at national level (listed by size of EEA EFTA contribution).

Programme 2014-2020

EEA EFTA commitment in Euro

EEA EFTA Participation

Horizon 2020

1 886 409 000

Iceland, Norway


430 318 385

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway

Implementation and exploitation of European satellite navigation systems (EGNOS and Galileo)

173 265 000



108 846 826

Iceland, Norway

Creative Europe

38 216 735

Iceland, Norway

Connecting Europe Facility (ICT Part)

23 074 600

Iceland, Norway

Employment and Social Innovation

16 578 328

Iceland, Norway

Union Civil Protection Mechanism

13 515 410

Iceland, Norway

Health for Growth

11 636 871

Iceland, Norway

European Statistical Programme (ESP)

8 816 380

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway

Consumer Programme

4 873 593

Iceland, Norway

Interoperability solutions for public administrations, businesses and citizens (ISA²)

3 213 927

Iceland, Norway

Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME)

2 595 824


Rights, Equality and Citizenship

559 131

Iceland, Liechtenstein

European Solidarity Corps (from 2019)

443 934



Programme Participation in Action

EEA EFTA citizens are making use of the possibilities that have become available through the participation of the EEA EFTA States in the EU programmes. Impulses from abroad stimulate new thinking and broaden horizons. International involvement and knowledge of other countries’ cultural traditions and social conditions are becoming increasingly important to understand and meet new global challenges in an environment that is constantly changing.

The participation of the EFTA States in the programmes is a good example of EFTA-EU cooperation in the Internal Market and participation of the EFTA States continues to be beneficial for both sides.

Through these programmes, citizens of the EEA EFTA States have been given the opportunity to benefit from the activities put in motion by resources from all of the EEA. Not only can the EEA EFTA States shape the aims and objectives of the programmes, but EEA EFTA nationals are given the opportunity to submit proposals for the funding of projects that are in line with the MFF’s overall objectives.

Horizon 2020

Both Iceland and Norway participate in the Horizon 2020 Programme, which implements the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. The goal is to ensure that the EEA produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation. By coupling research with innovation, Horizon 2020 places an emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges.

All three EEA EFTA States participate in the Erasmus+ Programme, which aims to boost skills and employability, as well as to modernise education, training and youth work. Erasmus+ provides opportunities for over four million Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer within the EEA. The programme supports transnational partnerships between education, training and youth organisations, bridging the worlds of education and work and tackling the skills gaps facing Europe. In the field of sport, it also supports grassroots projects and cross-border challenges such as combating match-fixing, doping, violence and racism.

Creative Europe

Norway and Iceland participate in the Creative Europe Programme, which offers funding for the development of European films, television programmes and games, the distribution and promotion of European films, festivals, cinema networks, training for cultural and creative professionals/artists, literary translations and cross-border cooperation.

Application Process

Call for proposals are published regularly in the Official Journal of the EU. The Europa website gives the best overview of open calls, including the objective of the call, the criteria for funding and the formal application requirements. The information is organised by the Directorate-General of the European Commission responsible for the Programme in question.  Read more about the application process under Applications and Finances.

Since the establishment of the EEA Agreement, the EEA EFTA States have been active participants in a wide range of EU programmes, projects and networks, from youth exchange and research programmes to public health and the development of digital content. Thousands of students from the EEA EFTA States have studied abroad through the Erasmus+ Programme, and many cultural institutions have participated in film, theatre or music projects through the Creative Europe Programme. The EEA EFTA States’ participation in these programmes has been beneficial for all parties concerned, enabling EFTA participants to find partners across the European Union and EU participants to take advantage of the expertise and best practices that exist in the EEA EFTA States. In addition, the EEA EFTA States’ financial contributions increase these programmes’ budgets significantly.

Get a glimpse of the EEA EFTA Programme participation in action:


Senior Budget Officer
Internal Market Division

+32 22861 787

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