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Guidelines for Project Grants under the Government's Plan of Action For Candidate Countries To The EU

Guidelines For Project Grants Under The Government’s Plan Of Action For Candidate Countries To The EU


In these guidelines, the following terms are defined thus:


The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Organization or other actor receiving grants for carrying out project measures, whether governmental or non-governmental, Norwegian or non-Norwegian

Project Grant

Financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for implementing a project


The activities specified in the recipient’s application and in the Ministry’s grant notification


The most important sources of information about this grant scheme are as follows:

  • Plan of Action for Candidate Countries to the EU
  • These Guidelines for Project Grants under the Government’s Plan of Action
  • The application, general conditions and evaluation form
  • Report No. 12 (2000-2001) to the Storting – The Government’s report on Norway and Europe, and the annual government budgets
  • Annual reports on the Plan of Action

Further information at the Ministry’s web site.

The objectives of the Plan of Action

The Government’s aims with this Plan of Action are to create a platform for broad and strengthened Norwegian cooperation with the candidate countries over the next few years, by encouraging closer contact, network-building and cooperation in a broad range of areas between the authorities and NGOs in the various countries and in the business sector, the working community, civil society and the academic and cultural spheres.

The objectives are:
  • to promote security, stability and sustainable growth and development in Europe, by supporting the integration of the Baltic and Central European countries into the economic and political cooperation in Europe through membership of the EU and thereby of the EEA.
  • to create a platform for broad and strengthened Norwegian cooperation with all the candidate countries, especially the Baltic and Central European countries, by encouraging closer contact, network-building and cooperation in selected areas.

Project Areas

The main goals are defined in the following priority target areas and apply throughout the region:

  • Help reinforce the continued development of democracy through concrete projects and measures that promote political pluralism, the building of democratic institutions, free elections, the principles of the rule of law, and respect for fundamental human rights, including gender equality and trade union rights.
  • Implement environmental measures and transfer technology and know-how through private and public-sector projects which will help improve the environmental situation, build up environmental protection administrations and promote sustainable development. The reduction of health threats arising from pollution, communicable disease and inadequate food safety is a priority area, particularly in our neighbouring areas.
  • Develop collaboration in the areas of education and research and culture, with a view to the fostering of mutual familiarity and understanding.
  • Help ease adjustment to the EEA and the EU cooperation through a focus on management systems, public administration and a smoothly-functioning market economy.
  • Strengthen cooperation in the area of justice and home affairs, through such efforts as helping to develop effective and adequate legal systems and combat new threats associated with organized crime, human smuggling, drugs and trafficking in and abuse of women and children.
  • Help to develop regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. High priority is given to health and food safety in this region.

Country priorities

The priorities for the various countries are appended to these guidelines. They will provide a basis for selecting projects.


Performance indicators and criteria for assessing the project in question shall be specified in the application.

The funds for this grant scheme are based on annual allocations over the National Budget.

Geographical scope and focus of the scheme

The Plan of Action applies to all candidate countries to the EU. Priority is given to cooperation projects in Norway’s neighbouring areas, which are defined as the Baltics and Poland.

Main criteria for granting support

Grants are given to concrete cooperation measures and projects based on the priorities set forth in the Plan of Action. Persons and organizations responsible for implementing projects may be Norwegian or foreign, and they may be private, government or multilateral organizations. Eligible measures will seek to promote closer contact and cooperation between Norway and a candidate country.

Projects are to:

  • reflect the recipient country’s own priorities
  • complement EU grant schemes and facilitate the process of adjusting to membership of the EU and the EEA
  • be consistent with Norwegian interests.

Projects are to offer benefits to the cooperating partner/country and should seek to build up expertise in the recipient country or collaborating partner. The project/activity should within a reasonable period, be viable and able to continue on its own without official Norwegian support.

Under certain circumstances, pilot projects and other preliminary projects, as well as technical conferences and seminars, may receive grants within the conditions set by the guidelines. It is assumed that applicants will have completed, as far as possible, the required surveys and other preliminary work before sending their applications.

To ensure coordination with the efforts of the EU and of other countries and with the priorities of the recipient country, it is assumed that applicants (or the appropriate embassy) will keep in touch with the relevant authority and with the local EU delegation.

Humanitarian efforts

  • Funding may be granted for the transport of aid shipments, limited upwards to 50 per cent (max. NOK 20,000). An amount is allocated annually towards humanitarian projects in the region.

Multilateral organizations

  • Funding may be granted to such organizations as the Council of Europe, the OECD, the UNDP, etc., which implement measures within the scope of the Plan of Action.

Measures falling outside the scope of the Plan of Action

The following activities cannot count on funding under this scheme:

  • Financing of exports of goods and services, including arms and other military contracts
  • Commercial export/import activities
  • Marketing measures
  • Operating expenses above and beyond initial measures in a startup phase
  • Establishment of permanent activity in Norway
  • Development or testing of new technology
  • Financing of commercial activities

Development of regional cooperation

Promoting regional cooperation across national boundaries is one of Norway’s foreign policy goals. One specific goal under the Plan of Action is to strengthen regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea region.

The Council of the Baltic Sea States was created in 1992 and includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden. Priority cooperation areas include assistance targeting democratic institutions, economic cooperation, humanitarian issues, environmental protection, energy, cooperation in the cultural sphere, education, tourism and transport and communications. Guidelines for the ongoing cooperation in the Baltic Sea region were drawn up at the Visby Summit in April 1996. Funds are allocated annually to cooperative measures under the Council. Projects are funded partly with project funds from the Russia strategy and partly from funds allocated under this Plan of Action in the Foreign Ministry Budget.

General criteria that will be given weight in the evaluation of applications

Projects must conform to the goals and priorities set forth in the Plan of Action.

Projects falling within the scope of priority cooperation areas in each individual country will be given priority. These areas are defined in the Plan of Action and will be subject to regular review through political dialogue between the government authorities of Norway and of the applicant countries.

Norwegian applicants must be able to show proof that they have established working contact with a collaborating partner in Central Europe. If project funding is granted, the applicant shall inform the collaborating partner of the basis and amount of the grant.

Applications from foreign actors are to be submitted through a Norwegian embassy or delegation.

Applicants must be able to show proof of relevant qualifications/expertise, including the results of previous endeavours.

Applicants must submit a complete and fully specified budget/financing plan. As a rule, a project cannot be financed by public funding alone, and the Norwegian and the Central European parties are both expected to make reasonable contributions.

As far as possible, foreign partners will pay such expenses as local travel, accommodations and property expenses in the local currency. Travel should be by the cheapest means. For extended stays, every effort must be made to find cheaper alternatives to hotel accommodations.

As a rule, administrative expenses are not covered by funding under the Plan of Action unless otherwise indicated in the grant notification.

Applicable hourly rates are limited to NOK 280 for internal personnel and NOK 550 for external personnel.

Attention will be given to gender equality issues in the evaluation of all types of projects. Applications must indicate how gender balance considerations will be reflected in hiring practices and training opportunities.

Applications must outline the potential environmental impact of the project. Wherever possible, projects should make some contribution towards building environmental protection competence or raising environmental awareness. Evaluation forms and final reports are to give an account of how this was actually done.

Funding for the Plan of Action for Applicant Countries will be allocated by the Storting on an annual basis. Therefore, it is not possible to guarantee continued project support beyond a specific budget period.


Applications for funding under this grant scheme are to be completed on a special application form.

Applications are to be signed by person(s) who are authorized to commit the recipient and shall provide complete and correct information on the recipient, the project, the budget, financing, etc. The Ministry handles applications according to the following procedures:

  1. Upon receipt by the Ministry, an application is registered and then sent over to the Section for Bilateral Relations with Europe and North America for processing. There is no application deadline for 2001, but one is expected in 2001.
  2. Within approximately 14 days, the applicant receives a form letter from the Ministry acknowledging receipt of the application.
  3. The Ministry evaluates whether the project falls within the scope of the priority target areas. The assessment of the embassy or delegation and of any government ministries or institutions involved is obtained. Decisive weight is given here to the applicant country’s own priorities and reference criteria for funding.
  4. After the application has been processed and a decision taken, the applicant will be notified in writing of the outcome. If the application is approved, a grant notification is drawn up in which the special conditions are spelled out. The grant notification will be sent to the applicant together with the General Conditions and an evaluation form. The applicant must sign and return the acceptance form within one month. If this is not possible, the applicant must request an extension. If the application for the grant is rejected, the applicant will receive notice to that effect in writing. All notifications will bear the name of the executive officer who has handled the application.

Payments – administration of funds and accounts, monitoring and control

When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has received the acceptance form, 75 per cent of the grant will be paid out in advance. The grant may also be disbursed either in a partial payment or in instalments, either of which is still limited to a maximum of 75 per cent of the full amount of the grant.

Before the remainder of the grant can be paid, the recipient must submit audited final accounts and a completed evaluation form for the project. It is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that the auditor is acquainted with the project funding guidelines.

In the event of any transfer of ownership of equipment, furnishings or buildings after the project is concluded, the recipient and the buyer are to sign an appropriate transfer document which lists all objects and their value. A copy of this document is to be filed together with the final report.

In keeping with section 17 of the Appropriation Regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Auditor General have the right to verify that the funds granted under this scheme are being used as intended. The Ministry will verify and assess all information it receives and draw upon this material when evaluating subsequent applications for grants.

Payment procedures are described in more detail under the General Conditions.


Progress/status/annual reports shall be filed at the end of every year no later than 15 February of the following year.

A completed evaluation form and final project report are to be submitted upon conclusion of the project.

Special obligations of recipient

In addition to the obligations outlined in the grant notification and in the General Conditions and guidelines, the recipient must note the following:

The recipient is responsible to the Ministry for applying the funds in accordance with the objectives, the activities and the budget as specified in the Ministry’s grant notification.

The recipient and its collaborating partners are to ensure the highest possible quality in conducting the project.

Alterations in the original plans or in the basis of the grant, including significant modification of main budget items within the overall budget framework, may only be made after obtaining the written consent of the Ministry.

Unused funds are to be returned to the Ministry as soon as possible.

Collaborating partner(s) are to be informed of the basis of the allocation, of the grant and of these guidelines.

Recipients (and collaborating partner(s)) are responsible, whenever and wherever possible, for properly insuring equipment, furnishings and personnel financed by this grant.

The Ministry is to be promptly informed of any suspicions of irregularities in connection with the application funds under this scheme.

Evaluating the grant scheme

The Ministry will review and assess individual projects and the project funding scheme, with a view to identifying the degree of fulfilment of project goals and whether the granting authority has been notified of the results. The recipient has an obligation to make a reasonable contribution to this effort at its own expense.

Other provisions

In the event of obvious mismanagement of funds, the Ministry is entitled to revoke the grant with immediate effect. From the moment the recipient receives notice of this, no payments from grant funds may be effected without the specific approval of the Ministry.

The Ministry provides information on projects receiving funding. Such information will therefore be available to the public unless there exists an agreement that it will remain confidential.