Norway Grants and EEA Grants
The Norwegian Financial Mechanism and the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (i.e. the so-called Norway Grants and EEA Grants) are a form of non-refundable foreign aid granted by Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein to new EU Member States. The grants are associated with the accession of Poland to the European Union and with our country's simultaneously joining the European Economic Area (EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway). In exchange for the financial aid, the Donor Countries are able to benefit from access to the European Union's internal market (although they are not EU members). Currently, the second edition of the Norway and EEC Grants is being implemented (the years 2009-2014). The previous edition covered the period 2004-2009.
The main objectives of the Norway Grants and the EEA Grants are:
- contributing towards the reduction of economic and social disparities within the European Economic Area,
- strengthening bilateral relations between the Donor States and the beneficiary state.
The total amount of the second edition of the Norway and EEA Grants is EUR 1.798 billion. The allocation for Poland amounts to EUR 578.1 million, including the grants management costs incurred by the Donors and by the Polish side.
In every beneficiary state, National Focal Points were established, which are responsible for the implementation of the grants at the national level. Their task is to coordinate and supervise the implementation of programmes. In Poland, the function of the National Focal Point is performed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development. It cooperates with the Certifying Authority and the Audit Authority, whose roles are played by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Finance, respectively.
The responsibility for the implementation of particular programmes (i.e. theme areas) lies with the so-called Operators. These are institutions specialized in a given field, e.g. with respect to health - the Ministry of Health. Operators' responsibilities include, among other things, the preparation of a programme, the announcement of a call for proposals, the selection of projects and the monitoring of their implementation, as well as the programme promotion. Some programmes are implemented in the form of partnerships with the Donors.
On the part of the Donors, the supervision of the grants is exercised by the Financial Mechanism Committee - for the EEA Financial Mechanism, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs - for the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. These institutions are assisted by the Financial Mechanism Office in Brussels, which is responsible for the funds management at the operational level.
Programmes (Areas of Support)
Within the Norway Grants and the EEA Grants, a dozen or so programmes (areas of support) have been delineated. Under a particular programme, funding will be obtainable for projects of similar subject matter.
Among the programmes, there are several areas carried over from the first edition of the Norway and EEA Grants. Most of all, the following must be mentioned: environmental protection (including renewable energy sources), cultural heritage, health, scientific research and scholarships. Also, programmes have been developed concerning the Schengen Area and home affairs, including the prison system and violence prevention. As in the first edition, much emphasis is placed on the strengthening of civil society. There are some absolutely new topics, too, such as decent work and tripartite dialogue, or cooperation between local self-governments as regards regional development.
The responsibility for the implementation of particular programmes lies with institutions/organizations specialized in a given field, e.g. with respect to health - the Ministry of Health. These institutions perform the function of the so-called Programme Operators. Under certain programmes, the Operators cooperate with entities in the Donor States.
Calls for Proposals
The selection of projects for co-financing is based to a large extent on calls for proposals announced by the Operators under particular programmes. Moreover, the so-called pre-defined projects are implemented (projects whose implementation is decided "in advance").
A distinctive feature of this edition of the Norway and EEA Grands is the emphasis on the strengthening of bilateral cooperation with the Donor States, i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway. This approach is expressed in:
- the establishment of the so-called partnership programmes,
- the establishment of bilateral co-operation funds at the national and the programme levels,
- the promotion of partnership co-operation at the project level.
Partnership at Project Level
As a general rule, there is no obligation to implement projects in co-operation with entities in the Donor States. Only some programmes presuppose exclusive implementation of bilateral projects. These include:
- the Polish-Norwegian Research Programme,
- promotion of cultural and artistic diversity,
- most measures under the Scholarship and Training Fund.
In order to develop partnerships within each programme the Bilateral Cooperation Fund at the programme level was established. The fund is intended to facilitate, among other things, the search for partners in the Donor States (prior to or in the course of preparation of an application), development of such partnerships, networking, exchange, sharing and transfer of knowledge, technologies, experience and best practices between the beneficiaries and the Donor State entities. The amount of the fund is about 1.5 % of the eligible costs under the programme.
Donor Partnership Programmes
In Poland there are 7 Donor Partnership Programmes. This format means that the programmes were developed in co-operation with partner institutions in the Donor States. Usually, the partner's responsibilities include professional assistance to the national Programme Operator in implementing the programme, facilitation of partnership formation, and promotion of a particular programme in the Donor States.
Bilateral Cooperation Fund at National Level
The Bilateral Cooperation Fund at the national level is a flexible source of funding for initiatives which contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations with the the Donor States. The amount of the Bilateral Cooperation Fund at the national level is 0.5 percent of the total allocation for Poland, i.e. EUR 2,890,500.
European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and Norwegian Financial Mechanism Report summarizing 1st edition in Poland 2004-2009:
Guide to Norway Grants and EEA Grants 2nd Edition Programmes 2009-2014:
For more information about the Norway Grants go to: