EEA and Norway Grants Programme honoured with closing ceremony in Hungary
The EEA and Norway Grants Programme concluded its work in Hungary in April 2017. In recognition of the work carried out under the programme and the experts involved in delivering its successful results, the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office organised a closing event in Budapest, which was held on November 17.
Over the past eight years, calls for proposals were announced in 12 programme areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate change, civil society, cultural heritage, scholarships, eco-innovation, capacity building and international cooperation, as well as public health initiatives. The majority of programme funds were handled by the Hungarian government, while some of them were managed by other entities, including the Regional Environmental Center (REC) (“Adaptation to climate change”), the Ökotárs Foundation, the Tempus Foundation, Szent István University, and the National Public Health Support Centre.
Altogether, more than 400 project proposals were submitted to the funding programme, and more than 170 were implemented. Overall, the granting programme was very successful. The event presenters introduced the implemented measures of each fund, highlighting successes and great accomplishments through selected examples. Besides the main projects implemented in the funding programme, bilateral activities also played an important role. The aim was to strengthen relations and professional cooperation between the donor countries and the beneficiary country through study visits, professional exchange programmes and bilateral meetings. The most successful fund operators received an award at the closing ceremony, and the REC was one of the fund operators to receive special recognition.
Olav Berstad, the Ambassador of Norway in Budapest, congratulated all the fund operators for their professionalism and dedication. At the same time, he highlighted the importance of respecting a tradition of shared European values, and expressed a continued commitment to supporting open and democratic societies. Berstad added that he hopes to see the launch of an equally successful upcoming programming period: negotiations between the Hungarian and the Norwegian governments are close to being concluded, and an agreement will hopefully be reached soon on the 2014-2021 granting period, which carries a total value of EUR 215 million.
Henning Stiro, Director of the Financial Mechanism Office highlighted that Hungary is the third largest recipient of programme funds. The main aims of the funds are to reduce economic and social disparities and to improve bilateral relations. Since the signing of the Agreement on the European Economic Area agreement in January 1994, Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein have made available more than EUR 6 billion to beneficiary countries in Europe.
The EEA and Norway Funds are financial mechanisms created by donor countries that are part of the European Economic Area – and hence enjoy its benefits – but are not members of the European Union. The Norway Fund is a fund created by Norway. Beneficiaries include the 13 European Union member states that have acceded to the EU since 2004, Hungary being among them. The EEA Grants Fund has been created by Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. In addition to the 13 new EU member states, it also provides support to Greece, Spain and Portugal.