The agreement on the next funding period for the EEA and Norway Grants was signed on 3 May this year. Under the agreement, Norway has undertaken to make around NOK 26 billion (EUR 2.8 billion) available for projects in 15 beneficiary countries in Central and Southern Europe for the period up to 2021.
Negotiations with the beneficiary countries on which programmes are to be given priority will continue into 2017. The first programmes could be up and running towards the end of 2017. The Government has proposed an allocation of NOK 370 million for projects under this scheme in 2017.
'It is important for us that this funding is used to address common European challenges, such as economic growth, innovation and migration,' said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Elisabeth Vik Aspaker.
'We will encourage cross-border cooperation, and are setting up two new funds: one for youth employment (approximately EUR 65.5 million), and one for regional cooperation (approximately EUR 34.5 million),' Ms Aspaker continued.
The EEA and Norway Grants are designed to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe and to strengthen bilateral relations between Norway and the beneficiary countries. In the previous funding period (2009–2014), 20 public sector institutions, government agencies and companies from Norway took part in implementing a total of 77 programmes.