The European Economic Area (EEA) was established on the 1st of January 1994, following the EEA Agreement which unites the member states of the European Union and the three EFTA (European Free Trade Association) states of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in the Internal Market. The EEA is based on the same four freedoms as the European Union, the free movement of goods, persons, capital and services among the EEA countries, and aims at promoting a continuous and balanced strengthening of trade and economic relations between the EEA Member States. To this end, the EEA EFTA States incorporate through the EEA Agreement relevant EU laws in their national legislation, thus ensuring the four freedoms within the EEA.
With the EU members increased to 25 on the 1st of May 2004, with the historic enlargement of the European Union and the European Economic Area, the three EEA EFTA members established the EEA and Norway Grants. More specifically, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway established the EEA Financial Mechanism, whereas in addition Norway established also a separate Norwegian Financial Mechanism. The grants provided through the two Financial Mechanisms are their countries’ contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area and to the strengthening of bilateral relations with the 16 beneficiary states in Central and Southern Europe.
The countries eligible for support under the EEA Grants are the 13 newest EU member states as well as Spain, Portugal and Greece, whereas the Norway Grants are open only to the 13 newest EU member states.
EEA and Norway Grants in Cyprus
The DG EPCD has been designated as the National Focal Point for the implementation of the Programmes under the EEA and Norway Grants, according to the Regulations for the Implementation of the EEA and Norway Grants 2009 - 2014.
During the previous implementation period 2004 - 2009, 6 projects were implemented with a funding of €4,3 million from the EEA and Norway Grants.
The total amount of €7,3 million was provided to Cyprus by the EEA and Norway Grants for the period 2009 - 2014, for the implementation of 10 projects. The Donor States and the DG EPCD signed the Memoranda of Understanding in December 2011, under which €3.561.250 and €3.700.000 have been made available to Cyprus, under the EEA Grants and the Norway Grants, respectively.
The projects implemented fall within the sectors of Public Health, Environmental Protection, Cultural Heritage, Justice and Home Affairs, Children and Youth at Risk and Civil Society, as follows:
· Biodiversity Conservation in the Restoration and Management of the Amiantos Asbestos Mine at Troodos National Forest Park (Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment).
· Day Care Centre for Children and Youth with Multiple Disabilities (Social Welfare Services – Ministry of Labour, Providence and Social Insurance).
· Centre for Visual Arts and Research (The Costas and Rita Severis Foundation).
· Fund for NGOs.
· Cyprus Bone Marrow Donor Registry (Karaiskakio Foundation).
· Establishment of a Translational Facility at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics).
· Construction of a New Shelter for the Victims of Domestic Violence (Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family).
· Strengthening MOKAS Capacities and Improve Efficiency to Detect Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Unit for Combating Money Laundering of Cyprus).
· Home for Cooperation (Association for Historical Dialogue and Research).
· The Global Fund for Decent Work and Tripartite Dialogue (Democratic Labour Federation Cyprus).
Over 50% of the funding for Cyprus was allocated to support for the Civil Society.
More information can be found at the dedicated website of the EEA and Norway Grants, as well as the website of the DG EPCD as the National Focal Point of EEA and Norway Grants in Cyprus.