Agreement on EEA and Norway Grants and exports of Norwegian seafood

Negotiators from Norway and the EU have reached agreement on a new funding period for EEA and Norway Grants and on tariff-free quotas for Norwegian seafood exports to the EU.

‘Our cooperation with the EU is closer, more essential and has a broader scope than ever before. The negotiations have been challenging, and the parties have had to adjust their ambitions during the process. However, I am very pleased that we have now agreed on a balanced package that includes both a new funding period for the EEA and Norway Grants, and a new agreement on the export of Norwegian seafood to the EU,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The three EEA/EFTA countries Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein provide funding via the EEA and Norway Grants scheme to help to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe. Under the new agreement, the three countries will provide EUR 3 268 million over a period of seven years to the EU’s 15 least prosperous states. 

‘This agreement represents an important step forward in our relationship with the EU. Now we will focus on continuing our efforts to strengthen our cooperation with the EU in other areas where there is a need to safeguard Norwegian interests, including health preparedness, cooperation on satellite communications and the green transition,’ said Mr Eide.

Norway and the EU have also agreed to implement a new seven-year agreement on the export of Norwegian seafood to the EU. The agreement includes tariff-free quotas for key seafood products. In addition, Iceland and the EU have reached a separate agreement on market access for Icelandic fish to the EU market.

‘The EU is Norway’s most important export market for seafood, and the increased tariff-free quotas mean greater export potential for the fisheries and aquaculture industries alike. Seafood is among the top Norwegian export industries, and this agreement achieved better market access for key seafood products processed in Norway,’ said Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy Cecilie Myrseth.

EEA and Norway Grants

The current EEA and Norway Grants scheme funding period has a total budget framework of EUR 2.8 billion. While the official time frame for this framework is 2014­–2021, , projects can be implemented under this funding period until April 2024. Negotiations on a new funding period for the EEA and Norway Grants was formally launched in June 2022, and negotiators reached agreement Thursday 30 November at a meeting in Brussels. The new funding period for the EEA and Norway Grants will run from 2021–2028. Norway provides roughly 97 %of this funding, with the remainder provided by Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Before the agreements can enter into force, they must be approved by the Storting (Norwegian parliament), the other EEA/EFTA countries and the 27 EU member states. The aim is to implement the agreements during the first half of 2024.

In practice, Norway and the EU have reached three separate agreements: One agreement on EEA Grants together with Iceland and Liechtenstein, one on Norway Grants, and one on market access for Norwegian seafood. These agreements are separate but have been negotiated in parallel.

‘Our objective has been to ensure that the EEA and Norway Grants scheme continues to safeguard common values such as the rule of law and democracy. But we must also work together to realise the green transition and help to increase social inclusion, promote adequate preparedness and build resilient societies. The agreement on a new EEA and Norway Grants funding period will contribute to these efforts,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

In the coming period, Norway will continue its cooperation in areas such as the green transition and innovation, research and education, health, culture, the justice sector, migration and integration, preparedness, local development and social dialogue. These are areas where Norwegian actors have special expertise and there is great potential for cooperation with actors in the beneficiary countries. Norway will also continue to provide support for vulnerable groups, including the Roma people. Support for civil society will be increased and will be managed independently of the authorities in the beneficiary countries in keeping with the current practice. 

Funds will also be earmarked to assist the beneficiary countries that are dealing with special challenges relating to Russia's war against Ukraine, for example because they have received a large number of Ukrainian refugees. Cooperation with international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the OECD and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights will also continue. Cross-cutting issues will include the need to safeguard women's rights, ensure gender equality and promote digitalisation.