On Tuesday Norway and Slovakia signed agreements on EEA and Norway Grants for a total of EUR 80.75 million. Flood protection, climate change, domestic violence and civil society are among the priorities.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) outlining the priorities for the grants for the period 2009–2014. Iceland and Liechtenstein also contribute to the EEA Grants.
The EEA Grants (EUR 38.35 million) and the Norway Grants (EUR 42.4 million) for the period 2009–2014 will target environmental and climate change issues such as the prevention of flooding and carbon capture and storage (CCS), and will also support efforts to reduce domestic violence, strengthen civil society, foster social dialogue, provide scholarships and promote cross-border cooperation.
“We are very pleased to sign these agreements on this special occasion. They provide a unique opportunity to strengthen relations between Norway and Slovakia,” said Foreign Minister Støre.
Prime Minister Radičová took the opportunity to stress that she highly appreciates the contribution Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein are making to reducing disparities in Europe. “I am pleased that Slovakia is the first of the 15 beneficiary states to sign the MoUs. This reflects the close and excellent bilateral cooperation between Norway and Slovakia,” said Ms Radičová. She believes that the grants will forge many links between the various stakeholders in the donor states and Slovakia, and help to improve living conditions.
Environment and climate change is the largest priority area under the new agreements. A total of EUR 31 million is earmarked for programmes for adaptation to climate change, carbon capture and storage and green industry innovation. “This field is a priority for Norway, and many Norwegian institutions such as Innovation Norway have a great deal of expertise and experience to offer as potential programme partners,” said Mr Støre.
Norway is one of the largest contributors to civil society in the region. Slovak civil society organisations will welcome the decision of the Norwegian and Slovak governments to allocate more than EUR 8 million to establish a new fund for non-governmental organisations.
A special focus on the situation of the Roma population will be included in relevant programmes.
The agreements also include substantial support for cross-border cooperation, with a view to strengthening contacts, ties and cooperation with countries across the EU’s external border. Programmes will also be set up to provide funding in the field of conservation and revitalisation of cultural and natural heritage and to provide scholarships for students and teachers.
One of the aims of the agreements is to strengthen bilateral cooperation through programme and project partnerships. Many Norwegian institutions are ready to cooperate with Slovak partners. The further details of the programme partnerships will be decided by Norway and Slovakia after the agreements have been concluded.
A new addition in the 2009–2014 period is a EUR 424 000 Norway Grants programme for the promotion of decent work and tripartite dialogue between employers’ organisations, trade unions and public authorities.