Norway is concerned about developments regarding the rule of law in Poland. An independent judiciary is a vital component of any well-functioning democracy and is essential for safeguarding fundamental human rights. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also been made aware that the Norwegian Courts Administration has decided to withdraw from its planned cooperation with Poland under the justice programme.
‘In the light of recent developments in Poland and the decision of the Norwegian Courts Administration, the Norwegian authorities are not prepared to sign the agreement with Poland on cooperation in the justice sector under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme in its current form. The fact that we are now reconsidering this cooperation is a clear signal to the Polish authorities that the Norwegian Government is concerned about developments regarding the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Poland,’ said State Secretary Audun Halvorsen.
Poland is the largest beneficiary of funding under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme, with an allocation of approximately NOK 8 billion for the current funding period (2014-2021), divided between a number of different programmes. The justice programme (approx. NOK 700 million) is still under development. The planned programme has three main elements: cooperation on the work of the correctional services (approximately NOK 480 million), cooperation aimed at combating domestic violence (approx. NOK 60 million) and judicial cooperation (approx. NOK 110 million). In addition to the Norwegian Courts Administration, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Norwegian Correctional Service are also involved as partners in the programme.
The parties will now review the plans for the justice programme in Poland. Today’s decision will not affect other cooperation with Poland under the EEA and Norway Grants.
‘We still consider it appropriate to continue our other cooperation with Poland under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme. But due to our concerns about rule of law developments in Poland, we will assess the situation continuously and any consequences for the rest of our cooperation with Poland under the Grants scheme, also in the implementation phase,’ State Secretary Halvorsen said.
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 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, distributed among 15 beneficiary countries.
- Norway provides over 95 % of this funding; the remainder is provided by Iceland and Liechtenstein.
- Poland is the largest beneficiary of funding under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme.
See the fact sheet for an overview of the programmes that are to be implemented in Poland.