Ever since the EEA Agreement entered into force in 1994, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have contributed to social and economic progress in selected countries of the EEA. The contributions have been channelled through different funding schemes, namely the Financial Mechanism (1994–1998), the Financial Instrument (1999–2003) and the EEA and Norway Grants (2004-2009, 2009-2014, 2014-2021).
The European Economic Area (EEA) binds together the 27 EU Member States and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as equal partners in the internal market. Citizens of all EEA countries have the same rights and obligations when it comes to trade and investment, banking and insurance, and buying and selling services. They have the same right to work, study and live in any EEA Member State. The Agreement also covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and innovation, education, culture, civil society and the environment.
Since the EU enlargement in 2004, the contributions are made available through two separate mechanisms: the EEA Grants and the Norway Grants. The EEA Grants are financed by the three Donor States Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, whereas the Norway Grants are solely financed by Norway. The Donor States contribute according to their GDP. In the current funding period 2014-2021, Norway provides approximately 94.4%, Iceland 4.2% and Liechtenstein 1.3% of the total budget allocated to the EEA Grants (average figures based on allocations in the period 2014-2020). Norway Grants are 100% financed by Norway.
Eligibility for the EEA and Norway Grants mirrors the criteria set for the EU Cohesion Fund aimed at EU Member States where the Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are eligible under the current mechanisms. Countries that have entered the EU before 2004 are exempt from receiving funding under the Norway Grants; Greece and Portugal therefore only receive funding from the EEA Grants.
In the current funding period, allocations are directed to five priority sectors in the 15 Beneficiary States. Country allocations are based on population size and GDP per capita, making Poland the largest Beneficiary State, followed by Romania and Bulgaria.
The 2014-2021 funding period builds on solid results achieved in the last funding period. During the 2009-2014 funding period, 1.8 billion euros were allocated to over 7 000 projects across 16 Beneficiary States. Below is a snapshot of our achievements: