Press release | Date: 2015-07-20 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norway and the EU have initialled an agreement on Norway’s contribution for a new period of the EEA and Norway Grants, with a view to reducing social and economic disparities in Europe. Parallel negotiations on better access for Norway to the EU market for its seafood have also been concluded.
‘This is a very good agreement. The goal of the EEA and Norway Grants is to promote growth and development in Europe, Norway’s most important export market. The Grants scheme also provides opportunities for Norwegian companies, researchers, municipalities, social partners and NGOs to take part in projects and cooperation programmes with EU countries,’ said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Vidar Helgesen.
Norway will provide around EUR 388 million (NOK 3.3 billion) a year to 15 of the least prosperous countries in the EU. The current agreement covers the period 2014–2021. The increase in funding compared to the agreement from 2009 is more or less in line with inflation.
Response to common challenges
‘The EEA and Norway Grants for the new period will primarily be used to promote innovation and growth through research, education and increased mobility in the European labour market. This will in turn contribute to reducing the unacceptably high unemployment rate among young people in Europe. At the same time we will put emphasis on strengthening energy security in Europe and contribute to a proactive climate policy,’ said Mr Helgesen.
The Government has ambitious goals for more targeted use of the EEA Grants in the coming years in cooperation with beneficiary countries, which are responsible for the implementation of the various programmes. These goals reflect the common challenges that Europe is facing.
‘Part of the funding will be used to strengthen democratic processes and respect for human rights. We are also aiming to improve living conditions for the Roma. We will continue to support civil society. The Global Fund for Decent Work and Tripartite Dialogue will be maintained in order to further promote decent work in beneficiary countries, in cooperation with the social partners in Norway. Priority will also be given to combating transnational crime, including in working life,’ said Mr Helgesen.
In addition, the Government has attached importance to expanding cooperation with the beneficiary countries in the area of justice and home affairs. This will include joint efforts to deal with Europe’s migration challenges.
A regional fund amounting to some NOK 850 million will also be established. There are a number of challenges in Europe that affect several countries or whole regions, and that can only be tackled through cross-border efforts. The purpose of this fund is to support cross-border initiatives and measures, including efforts involving non-beneficiary countries. This opens up opportunities for cooperation with other countries, for example Ukraine and Moldova.
Better EU market access for Norwegian seafood
‘I am very pleased that we have now achieved better market access for Norwegian seafood. The EU is our most important market, and the new tariff free quotas that have been agreed on are very important for the Norwegian seafood industry,’ said Minister of Fisheries Elisabeth Aspaker.
The agreement on better market access for Norwegian seafood was negotiated in parallel with the negotiations on Norway’s contribution to the EEA and Norway Grants.
The agreement entails:
- new tariff-free quotas for fileted and processed products such as frozen mackerel and fresh herring;
- a 50 % increase in the current quota for different types of spiced and/or vinegar cured herring; and
- extension of the agreement period from five to seven years.
‘All in all the agreement ensures greater predictability for the seafood industry. This will also benefit the seafood industry in the EU, which relies on stable supplies from Norway. The new quotas will pave the way for processing of more herring and mackerel in Norway. This is good for the industry, and will make it possible to develop new markets for these products now that we cannot export to the Russian market,’ said Ms Aspaker.
Before the agreements enter into force, they must first be approved by the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) and the EU member countries.
Facts about the EEA and Norway Grants
There are two mechanisms under the scheme. One is funded solely by Norway (the Norway Grants), which amounts to EUR 179.1 million for the 2014–2021 period. The other (the EEA Grants) amounts to EUR 221.2 million a year for the same period, and includes a contribution from Iceland and Liechtenstein of around 4 %.