We are already seeing increasing social and economic disparities, as more and more people lose their jobs, even their homes. This not just a question of social justice; it could lead to political instability.
Democracy, human rights and the rule of law are common European values with deep roots in our history. However we are seeing worrying trends. Minorities are being put under pressure. We hear more hate speech. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of racism are gaining ground.
All European countries have committed themselves to protecting their citizens from discrimination and intolerance. The donors of the EEA and Norway Grants attach particular importance to this effort, particularly in these turbulent times.
We focus on fighting discrimination and intolerance in all the programmes under the Grant scheme, with special attention to the inclusion of the Roma.
There are crucial concerns for achieving the scheme’s goal: reducing economic and social disparities in Europe and strengthening bilateral relations.
This annual report gives you an update on where we stand today. There are dedicated sections on environmental protection and climate change and promoting fundamental values and multicultural awareness.
During the course of 2012 programmes were planned and designed. Several were also made operational. There were calls for project proposals and funding. Judging by the huge number of applications and registered participants in matchmaking events and information briefings we can conclude that the Grants are needed and that there is growing interest in projects between partners in the beneficiary and donor countries.