Speech/statement | Date: 2014-06-19 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
'Pleased to welcome you to this consultation on the shaping of the future of the EEA and Norway Grants, which are an instrument for solidarity and cooperation in Europe', said Minister Vidar Helgesen at a high level round table about how to stimulate innovation, growth and jobs.
Pleased to welcome you to this consultation on the shaping of the future of the EEA and Norway Grants, which are an instrument for solidarity and cooperation in Europe. A special welcome to Commissioner Barnier, Professor Veugelers, and Director Zietara from Poland, responsible for the excellent handling of Norwegian Funds in Poland.
I am interested in your views on how Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein can use the grants to enhance the efforts of the European Union and its member states, particularly in promoting (1) apprenticeships and entrepreneurial skills, and addressing (2) energy and climate and (3) migration issues.
You represent private and public stakeholders. We have invited experts from the European Union, academia, think tanks, trade unions, business and of course, the beneficiary states of the EEA and Norway Grants, so that you can all contribute with your accumulated knowledge and experience.
This meeting is part of a broad consultation process that runs in parallel with the negotiations between the EU and the three EFTA states on a new five-year period for the EEA and Norway Grants and for enhanced market access for fish products in the EU. The negotiations are still at an early stage.
Common European challenges
The Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth identifies ways to reduce poverty and enhance social inclusion and the need to create conditions for new growth in Europe. We share the priorities.
Too many people are out of work, too many people of all ages experience poverty and social exclusion.
We need to invest in research, innovation, education, job creation and a business friendly environment.
The energy sector is key to European challenges; we need more renewable energy, more efficient use of energy and more security of supplies in order to move towards a low carbon economy in Europe.
We need a global approach to justice, home affairs and migration based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Today we will discuss one aspect of this broad field, namely migration policies and related challenges.
The Norwegian Government’s strategy for cooperation with the European Union 2014 - 2017
- Increased competitiveness
- Higher quality education and research
- An ambitious climate and energy policy
- Enhanced security, and
- A global approach to migration.
The Government will pursue a coordinated European policy based on openness, knowledge and political engagement. We will also strengthen our cooperation with individual EU member states. – The EEA and Norway Grants are an important political instrument is this context.
EEA and Norway Grants as an instrument for Norway’s European policy and growth in Europe
A considerable contribution. (Since 1994, allocated approx. 3.3 billion EUR, out of which 1.8 billion EUR allocated to the present finance period 2009-2014. Around 97% of these funds are granted by Norway).
The Grants are offered to the countries that are eligible for support from the EU Cohesion Fund.
At present there are 150 programmes in the 16 beneficiary countries. We work closely with the governments and provide for a wide range of bilateral opportunities.
A particular feature of the grants is the facilitation of partnerships between institutions in donor and beneficiary states in programmes and projects.
Future areas of cooperation for the EEA and Norway Grants
- Strengthened political relevance
- Continuity of cooperation that works well
- Focus to enhance sustainability and results
Five suggested priority sectors for our funding;
- Innovation, research and education
- Climate change, energy and environment – incl energy security
- Justice and home affairs
- Social inclusion and poverty reduction
- Culture, civil society, good governance, fundamental rights and freedoms.
We would prefer to channel most of the funding to the first three areas. However, the final programme areas will be decided after broad consultations.
Three themes today;
1. Bridging education and work – promoting apprenticeships and entrepreneurial skills
The difficulties faced by young people who are not in employment, education or training (known as NEETs) are multidimensional, and a comprehensive set of policies and actions is required to prevent them from becoming excluded from the labour market.
Norway is prepared to join in efforts to help young people who are out of work and out of school, and especially the most disadvantaged members of this group to gain a foothold in the labour market.
This is an area that has not previously been addressed by the grants, and we would like your views on how we could use the grants to complement the work being done by the through the Grants can complement the contributions of the EU and individual countries to promoting apprenticeships and entrepreneurial skills.
2. Energy security and climate change
More than 30% of the funding in the present funding period is earmarked for energy, climate and environment. This high level of funding will be continued, with a closer focus on energy security and climate policy, energy security, in line with the European Union’s climate and energy framework for 2030. Funding will mainly be used for renewable energy and energy efficiency, with a view to meeting the 20-20-20 targets. I would like to hear your views on how Norway can make use of our considerable experience and knowledge in this sector.
3. Justice and Home Affairs
Justice, Home Affairs, fundamental rights and migration policy are important issues for my Government.
We aim to continue our support through the Grants to combat organized crime, support to the police, courts, correctional services and migration.
As this area is very broad area, we will limit our discussion today to migration policy and related challenges, with a particular focus on how the EEA and Norway Grants may represent an additional value in the area of return of migrants.
The results of the working groups will feed into our policy work.
Pleased to be here with you today – would like to take this opportunity to thank the Norwegian EU delegation - I look forward to the dialogue and your contributions.