Press release | Date: 2015-05-28 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The NGO programme in Hungary that is funded by Norway under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme is being run effectively and in line with the legal framework, according to an audit by the firm PKF Littlejohn.
‘I am pleased to see that the results of the audit are positive,’ said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Vidar Helgesen.
Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway supports NGOs seeking to promote human rights and democratic values in Hungary. The NGO programme has a total budget of around EUR 13.5 million.
In the autumn of 2014, the London-based audit firm PKF Littlejohn was commissioned to carry out an audit of the NGO programme and of the local fund operator in Hungary.
The report from the audit is now available, and it shows that the programme’s management and control system is in line with the legal requirements. It also shows that Norway’s funds are being managed effectively.
In addition, PKF Littlejohn has carried out an audit of a selection of projects. The results of these audits are also generally positive. Only minor problems have been found, and these will now be rectified.
On the basis of the audit, PKF Littlejohn has recommended some possible improvements in the management and control system. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take these recommendations into account in the work to further strengthen the management of the EEA and Norway Grants.
Norway open to dialogue
Norway’s support for NGOs in Hungary has come under pressure from the Hungarian authorities; for example, the local fund operators have been subjected to police raids.
The Hungarian authorities have violated agreements with the donor countries on the management of the EEA and Norway Grants. As of 9 May 2014, Norway has therefore suspended some of its payments to Hungary under the grants scheme.
‘We invite the Hungarian authorities to engage in a dialogue to find a solution based on respect for fundamental democratic values, the independence of civil society and the agreements that have been concluded,’ said Mr Helgesen.
Norway’s funding for NGOs under the EEA and Norway Grants totals almost EUR 160 million, divided between 16 beneficiary countries. The programme in Hungary is one of a total of 13 NGO programmes that are currently being audited.
A recently published evaluation report shows that the funds from Norway are enhancing the ability of civil society organisations in the Baltic countries and central and southern European countries to fulfil their role in an open and democratic Europe.