The European Economic Area (EEA) was created and entered into force in 1994, as a Free Trade Area between the European Community (EC) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The EEA gathers the Member States of the European Union (EU) and 3 of the EFTA Member States (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), within an internal market based on the free circulation of goods, persons, services and capital.
On July 28, 2010, the Agreement between the European Union and the Donor States (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) for the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014, as concerns the non-reimbursable assistant provided by this country between 2009-2014.
Through this mechanism, Romania is to benefit from a total financial assistance amounting to 190.75 million Euros.
The EEA Financial Mechanism 2009 – 2014 aims at reducing the economic and social disparities within the European Economic Area and at strengthening the cooperation between the Donor States and the beneficiary states through the proposed priority sectors.
Thus, further to the negotiation process between Romania and the Donor State between October 2011 – January 2012, the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding for the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 have been finalized. The document establishes the cooperation framework and allows for the efficient implementation of the financial assistance granted.
Therefore, the Memorandum of Understanding for the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 established the national entities involved in the implementation of the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014, as well as their functions in the national management and control system (Annex A) and the implementation framework (Annex B), which specifies the list of the priorities and the financial assistance granted through the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014, the identification of the programmes approved for financing with their main objectives and expected outcomes, the identification of the Programme Operators, as well as the accepted pre-defined projects.
The general objectives of the EEA Grants are the reduction of the social and economic disparities in the European Economic Area, and strengthening the bilateral relations between the donor states and the beneficiary states.
Between 2009-2014, EEA Grants and Norway Grants sum up 1,79 billion euros. Norway’s contribution is of almost 97% of the total sum. Grants are available for NGOs, academic institutions and research institutes, as well as for the public and private sector from the 12 new Member States of the European Union, Greece, Portugal and Spain. There is a well-developed collaboration with the entities of the donor countries and activities can be implemented by 2016.
The key areas of support are environment protection and climate change, research and scholarships, civil society, health and children, gender equality, justice and cultural heritage.