History of the EEA and Norway Grants

The EEA and Norway Grants represent contributions from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reducing social and economic disparities in the European Economic Area (EEA) and strengthening bilateral relations between the Donor and Beneficiary States.

A brief history

Ever since the EEA Agreement entered into force in 1994, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have contributed to social and economic progress in selected countries of the EEA. The contributions have been channelled through different funding schemes: the Financial Mechanism (1994-1998), the Financial Instrument (1999-2003), and the EEA and Norway Grants (2004-2009, 2009-2014, 2014-2021).

People working
Credit: Martin Bonnici

The European Economic Area

The European Economic Area (EEA) binds together the 27 EU Member States and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as equal partners in the internal market. Citizens of all EEA countries have the same rights and obligations when it comes to trade and investment, banking and insurance, and buying and selling services. They have the same right to work, study and live in any EEA Member State. The Agreement also covers cooperation in other important areas such as research and innovation, education, culture, civil society and the environment.

Since the European Union (EU) enlargement in 2004, the contributions have been made available through two separate mechanisms: the EEA Grants and the Norway Grants. The EEA Grants are financed by the three Donor States Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, whereas the Norway Grants are solely financed by Norway. The Donor States contribute according to their gross domestic product (GDP). In the current funding period 2014-2021, Norway provides approximately 94.4%, Iceland 4.2% and Liechtenstein 1.3% of the total budget allocated to the EEA Grants (average figures based on allocations in the period 2014-2021). Norway Grants are 100% financed by Norway.

Eligibility for the EEA and Norway Grants mirrors the criteria set for the EU Cohesion Fund aimed at EU Member States where the gross national income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary1, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are eligible under the current mechanisms. Countries that entered the EU before 2004 are ineligible for receiving funding under the Norway Grants; Greece and Portugal therefore only receive funding from the EEA Grants.

  1. 1.In 2021, the Donor States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, did not reached an agreement with Hungary on the appointment of a Fund Operator to manage the funding for civil society. Consequently, no programmes are being implemented in Hungary under the EEA and Norway Grants during the 2014-2021 funding period.

Past achievements

The 2014-2021 funding period builds on solid results achieved in the previous funding period. During the 2009-2014 funding period, €1.8 billion were allocated to over 7,000 projects across 16 Beneficiary States. Below is a snapshot of our achievements:

26,800+ People have benefitted from human rights support through our civil society programmes2

80,000+ people have followed alternatives to prison, mainly as part of probation supervision programmes3

People working
Credit: Adam Rostkowski
People working
Credit: Agnieszka Skowronek

1.7M+ people attended cultural events organised with our support4

1,500+ internationally refereed scientific publications have been published through our research programmes5

140+ environmental and marine monitoring plans and programmes have been developed or implemented6

People working
Credit: Bogdan Croitoru
  1. 2.26,301 beneficiaries through the EEA Grants and 540 through the Norway Grants.
  2. 3.80,533 beneficiaries through the Norway Grants only.
  3. 4.1,738,101 beneficiaries through the EEA Grants only.
  4. 5.1,428 internationally refereed scientific publications through the Norway Grants and 75 through the EEA Grants.
  5. 6.142 environmental and marine monitoring plans and programmes developed and/or implemented through the EEA Grants.