To channel the funding where it is needed the most, the Donor States and the European Union have agreed upon a set of priorities that align the Grants with the Europe 2020 strategy:
In 2020, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway continued to deliver on their commitment through the EEA and Norway Grants. Following the agreements on the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021 with the EU in 2016, the three Donor States signed cooperation agreements or Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Hungary last December. These became the last MoUs signed in the 2014-2021 funding period.
More specifically, thematic programmes are developed for each of the five priority sectors. A total of 96 programmes are currently under implementation. 15 of these were signed in 2020, offering even more opportunities for potential project promoters and project partners to implement ideas. Since 2017, a total of 287 calls for project proposals have been launched, 115 of these in 2020 alone.
The Donor States and the Beneficiary States sign cooperation agreements (MoUs). These agreements provide the underlying structure of the Grants in each country for the current funding period, specifying programmes that will be funded and how much funding will be made available.
The EEA and Norway Grants are channelled through programmes that were agreed by the Donor States and the Beneficiary States to maximise the impact of the funding. In each Beneficiary State, several thematic programmes are funded to address priorities of the Donors and Beneficiary States in different areas. This approach results in more strategic partnerships between Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway and the 15 Beneficiary States.
Concept notes, based inter alia on public consultations, contain the general outline of the programmes and their context, the societal challenges to be addressed and the expected results. Based on the concept notes, programme agreements detail the structure and the procedures of each programme. Programmes are managed by Programme Operators.
To find the most promising projects, Programme Operators launch open calls for proposals. They organise information sessions and matchmaking events for potential project promoters and partners from the Donor States, aiming to help them create new partnerships and take part in the open calls.
Cooperation between the Beneficiary States and the Donor States is at the heart of the Grants. To strengthen bilateral relations and encourage collaboration, matchmaking events are organised to connect project promoters from the Beneficiary States with project partners from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
The programme and project examples below illustrate the EEA and Norway Grants’ results on the ground.
Ghost fishing – a phenomenon where abandoned or lost fishing gear 'continues to fish' on its own – is estimated to cause injuries and death to around 100 000 marine animals every year.
To address this problem, the Municipality of Esposende, the project promoter of the Portuguese EEA Grants project E-Redes, has developed a pilot study to find a way to avoid ghost fishing. One of their solutions is to provide the local fishing community with biodegradable gillnets and trammel nets, which do not damage the environment if they are lost or discarded. In addition, the project will organise bimonthly beach clean-ups and analyse the collected debris. The hope is that consistent and systematic monitoring will provide policy-makers with the evidence they need to develop new regulations, and raise the public’s awareness about the issue of ghost fishing.
Vasco Ferreira is a Marine Research Consultant for the municipality of Esposende, where the park is located. ‘During beach clean-ups and diving sessions, we were able to retrieve a significant amount of gear. The amount of lost fishing gear is so huge: if we want to solve this issue, we have to change the paradigm. So instead of pulling nets out of the ocean, we need to prevent them from getting there in the first place.’
According to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, racism and hate speech are widespread in Romania, with antigypsyism and anti-migrant sentiments vocal on social media and in the public space.
A Norway Grants project tackles the problem by addressing the insufficient expertise among Romanian police officers in recognising hate-related motivations and investigating hate crimes and violent extremism, especially when directed at the Roma population. The General Inspectorate of Romanian Police plans to set up a ‘Hate crime unit’ to handle hate-related crime and racially motivated attacks against Roma and other minorities. To build an effective and efficient unit, the Romanian Inspectorate is partnering up with the Oslo Police District’s Hate Crime Unit.
Police chief commissioner Ciprian Mirion from Romania recognises the potential of the cooperation. ‘The partnership with the Oslo Hate Crime Unit is definitely an added value to our project. We can not only draw on their experience when establishing a similar unit within our Criminal Investigations Directorate, but also directly implement their solutions to possible challenges that may arise for us. It’s the first project in this field for us and, hopefully, not the last. Any experience we can borrow and then implement makes a huge difference.’
Abetare Krasniqi and Monica Lillebakken – Police Superintendents from Oslo Police District working with Romanian law enforcement agencies, state actors and the NGO sector.
‘By referring to our experiences, best practices and providing strategic advice, we want to help Romania take the necessary structural and organisational steps that stand the test of time’, says Abetare Krasniqi, the Police Superintendent, leading the project in Norway.
In addition to establishing the Hate crime unit, the Romanian Inspectorate plans to put legal procedures in place to increase police accountability, collect and record data on hate crimes, implement measures to boost access to fundamental human rights for Roma, and involve local NGOs to help build relations between the police and the community.
Besides the Oslo Police District, the Romanian police is also working with the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service, the Norwegian Police University College, Norway’s National Police Directorate and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
In Lithuania, three Fixus Mobilis ‘heritage ambulances’ are on the road to take care of historic buildings. The vans bring skilled workers all over the country to carry out urgent repairs and prevent further decay. The ‘heritage ambulances’ are the first-of-a-kind service for owners and caretakers of cultural heritage objects.
The teams inspect and assess cultural heritage sites and plan necessary preventive interventions together with the site owners. They focus on small-scale projects where such measures can significantly improve the objects’ lifespan and reduce long-term renovation costs.
The Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Centre – the organisation behind the project Fixus Mobilis – has partnered up with the Association for Employers in the Church of Norway and the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage. Through funding from the EEA Grants, the Lithuanian project promoter plans to examine 200 objects by 2024.
The concept behind regular inspections and providing preventive maintenance was created in the Netherlands 45 years ago. Funding from the EEA Grants has so far helped spread the concept to Slovakia, Lithuania and Norway, and it has resulted in an informal network where experience and know-how are exchanged between the countries.