The Norwegian Financial Mechanism and the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (known as Norway grants and EEA grants, respectively) provide non-refundable financial support granted by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to new EU members. These funds are available to Poland as a member of the European Union and, at the same time, the European Economic Area (the EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). In return for the financial support, the donor countries have access to the European Union’s internal market, although they are not members of the EU. The present editions of mechanisms are their second editions (2009-2014). The previous ones covered the years 2004-2009.
Objectives The main objectives of the Norway Grants and EEA grants are:
- to contribute to reducing economic and social differences within the European Economic Area;
- and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor countries and the beneficiary countries.
Beneficiary countries The financial support through Norway and EEA grants is available to a total of 16 EU countries, i.e. the 12 countries that joined the single European market in 2004 and 2007, plus Spain, Portugal, Greece and Croatia.
Allocation The total amount of Norway and EEA grants in the second edition is EUR 1.798 billion. The portion for Poland is EUR 578.1 million, which includes the costs of managing the grants incurred by the donor countries and Poland.
Beneficiaries Generally, the financial support can be applied for by private or public entities, commercial or non-commercial entities, or nongovernmental organisations established as legal entities in Poland, as well as intergovernmental organisations working in Poland. For each programme, a list of eligible applicants will be specified.
Programmes (areas of support) Between ten and twenty programmes (areas of support) have been identified for the purposes of Norway and EEA grants. Each programme offers support for similar projects in the same area. The programmes in the second edition include many of the areas from the first edition of both mechanisms. These are, in particular, environment protection (incl. renewable energy), cultural heritage, health, scientific research and scholarships. There are also programmes related to the Schengen area and internal affairs, including the prison system and violence prevention. As was the case in the first edition, great emphasis is put in the second edition on civil society strengthening. New areas, such as decent work and tripartite dialogue, as well as local government cooperation for regional development, are also included. Each of these programmes is executed by the relevant institution/organisation that specialises in the area concerned, e.g. the Ministry of Health in the health area. These institutions are referred to as programme operators. In the case of some of the programmes, the operators cooperate with entities in the donor countries.
Competitions The majority of the projects to be provided with financial support are selected in competitions announced by the programme operators, separately for each programme. There are also projects known are pre-defined projects.