Romania and Norway have entered into their largest ever cooperation agreement. In the new round of funding of the EEA and Norway Grants, NOK 2.3 billion has been allocated to programmes and projects in Romania. Priority has been given to strengthening the justice and home affairs sector and improving the situation for the Roma population.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre commented, “There is close contact and cooperation between Norway and Romania. The funds provided in this new round of the EEA and Norway Grants will further strengthen our contact in many areas.”
Romania is facing considerable challenges within its justice and home affairs sector. Support for measures to combat organised crime and human trafficking have therefore been given priority. Funding will also be used to strengthen the courts and the judicial system, and to improve standards in the Romanian criminal and probation services. Projects to combat domestic violence will also receive funding. The Norwegian Police Directorate, the Norwegian Courts Administration and Correctional Services will be involved in this work, as will the Council of Europe. A total of NOK 200 million has been allocated to this sector.
There is a growing interest from Norwegian companies to invest in Romania. Norwegian companies have good opportunities for cooperating with Romanian partners under the Green Industry Innovation programme. Funding from the Norway Grants will be used to support business ideas and business development based on environmental technology. A total of around NOK 180 million has been allocated to this programme. In addition, NOK 110 million has been allocated to a programme in the maritime sector. Both these programmes will be administered by Innovation Norway.
The Roma population is a large minority group in Romania. The EEA and Norway Grants will be used to improve the situation of the Roma population through a number of different measures. A programme for children and young people at risk will focus on the regions where a large proportion of the population are Roma. Around NOK 170 million has been allocated to projects to reduce discrimination, improve integration and reduce social and economic disparities. The Council of Europe will be an important partner in this work. In addition, at least 10 % of the funding in most programmes will be set aside for improving conditions for the Roma population.
Support to civil society under the Grants is also being stepped up. The NOK 225 million NGO Fund will contribute to strengthening civil society in Romania and to increasing the participation of NGOs in social development. It will focus in particular on projects targeting children and young people, vulnerable groups and minorities, including the Roma population.
Gry Larsen, State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, “Norway has a great interest in expanding the cooperation with Romania. It is positive to see that this keen interest exists on both sides.” Ms Larsen signed the MoU in Bucharest together with the Romanian Minister of European Affairs this afternoon.
Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway makes an important contribution to reducing social and economic disparities in the EEA. The Grants are also intended to strengthen cooperation and contact between Norway and the beneficiary countries. The EEA and Norway Grants amount to around NOK 14 billion for the period 2009–14. Norway provides 97 % of the funding for the Grants, and Iceland and Liechtenstein provide the rest.