Norway signed extensive new MoUs with Poland on the use of funding under the EEA and Norway Grants amounting to EUR 809.3 million. The business and innovation sector will be significantly strengthened. Justice and home affairs, energy and climate, and civil society will also continue to be important priority areas.
‘I am pleased that we have reached agreement on the framework for the new funding period for the EEA and Norway Grants to Poland. We look forward to continuing the important work that has been carried out under the previous period, and to strengthening efforts in the areas of business development, research and local development,’ said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Marit Berger Røsland.
The MoUs cover the funding period 2014-2021, and with total funding amounting to EUR 809.3 million, Poland is still the largest beneficiary country in the grants scheme.
‘The negotiations on the new funding period have at times been challenging. I am particularly pleased that we have secured agreement to continue our strong and independent support for civil society,’ said Ms Berger Røsland.
Under the agreement that has now been reached, the funding for civil society (the Active Citizens’ Fund) will be divided into a national and a regional fund of EUR 30 million and EUR 23 million respectively. Both these funds are to be managed by independent operators who have no links to the authorities, and are to be selected on the basis of open competition.
Opportunities for Norwegian actors
Poland is an important trading partner, and Poles make up the largest group of foreign nationals in Norway.
The EEA and Norway Grants help to strengthen bilateral cooperation in many different sectors, and 13 Norwegian agencies will take part in the development and implementation of the programmes. It is important to further develop and create new networks that can contribute to positive developments, particularly at a time where some developments in Poland are giving cause for concern.
‘Many Norwegian actors can benefit from the opportunities for cooperation that the EEA and Norway Grants provide. In the previous funding period, several Norwegian companies established useful ties with Poland through their project cooperation under the scheme. We hope that even more Norwegian actors will make use of these opportunities in the new funding period,’ said Ms Berger Røsland.
Support for business development and innovation will be significantly strengthened, with a focus on green innovation and blue growth. Innovation Norway will play a key role, not least in the work to engage more Norwegian companies in cooperation projects. Innovation Norway will also run the programme for social dialogue and decent work. One of the projects under the programme will involve cooperation between the Norwegian and Polish labour inspection authorities on combating work-related crime.
Efforts in the justice sector will be continued, with particular emphasis on cooperation in the areas of correctional services and courts administration. Several Norwegian institutions are involved, including the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Norwegian Courts Administration, and the Norwegian Correctional Service.
High priority will continue to be given to efforts in the area of environment, energy and climate. For example, funding has been allocated to research on carbon capture and storage.
Cultural heritage and cultural exchange will continue to be important in this funding period, and both the Directorate for Cultural Heritage and Arts Council Norway are taking part as partners in various programmes. The cooperation between Norwegian partners and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews is among the projects that are to be continued.
Facts about the EEA and Norway Grants
- Under the EEA Agreement, Norway is part of the European internal market.
- The EEA Agreement sets out the common goal of working together to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe and to strengthen cooperation between European countries.
- Norway contributes to this through the EEA and Norway Grants.
- EUR 2.8 billion is available under the grant scheme for the period 2014-2021, to be distributed among 15 beneficiary countries.
- Norway provides some 98 % of this funding; the remainder is provided by Iceland and Liechtenstein.
(MFA Press release, N.Sethurupan)