Programme development and implementation

Image credits: Christophe Vander Eecken

2019 was marked by new funding opportunities across all the areas supported by the Grants.

With most of the programme agreements now finalised, we have been able to launch approximately 149 calls for project proposals – helping people across Europe turn their ideas into reality.

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway strongly emphasise the design of high-quality programmes, guided by the principles of results-based management. This approach ensures that the EEA and Norway Grants programmes address real needs and important challenges and achieve clearly defined and demonstrable results in the coming years.

The latest cooperation agreements (memoranda of understanding) were signed with Cyprus in March 2019. This makes Cyprus the 14th Beneficiary State to have the cooperation agreements in place.

The sections below present the different steps towards making the funds available to actors on the ground.

Did you know?

The ‘Blue Book’ describes all the priority sectors and programme areas of the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021 funding period.

Find out more here

Step 1 Setting the way forward

Following the agreement on the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021 with the EU in 2016, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have signed cooperation agreements with 14 of the 15 EEA and Norway Grants’ Beneficiary States.

These agreements present the overarching structure of the Grants in each country for the current funding period, including which programmes will be funded and how much funding will be made available. At the start of 2020, Hungary was the only country where cooperation agreements had not yet been reached.


March 2019

Latest cooperation agreements signed with Cyprus

Step 2 Defining the concepts


People should always have a say on issues that affect them directly. That is why gathering opinions, concerns, suggestions and experiences – as early as possible – is key to making sure our programmes address the needs and challenges of all stakeholders involved. Since the beginning of the 2014-2021 funding period, we have held over 110 stakeholder consultations as the first step in the preparation of our programmes. In other words, we have consulted experts in areas ranging from public and private sector to civil society and academia, across all the Beneficiary States. This has helped define some of the key issues in these fields, and suggest concrete solutions.

110+ Consultations since the beginning of the 2014‑2021 funding period

People working
Credits: Wotjek Radwanski
Concept notes

Following the consultations, we have prepared concept notes for each programme. The concept notes detail the programmes and their context, the societal challenges we address, the results we aim to achieve and how we plan to do so. This includes:

  • defining objectives, target groups and the scope for partnerships with entities from the Donor States;
  • selecting indicators and targets;
  • outlining how many calls for project proposals will be launched.

Where relevant, the concept notes also include descriptions of pre-defined projects which will be funded through each programme. We have nearly completed this process, with 95 concept notes finalised by the end of 2019.

We have finalised 95 concept notes by the end of 2019

Step 3 Framing the work into programme agreements

Once the concept notes have been finalised, our next step is to put their content into legal agreements. The programme agreements formalise the structure and the procedures of each programme. This includes aspects such as the roles, budget, results framework, eligibility criteria and selection procedures, as well as payments and reporting. Once the agreements have been signed, we can launch the programmes and start funding projects.

80 Programme
agreements signed1

17 Programme agreements

8 Countries have all programme agreements in place

2019 was a big year in this respect. Out of 80 programme agreements signed so far, 52 were signed in 2019, with only 17 remaining to be signed. Eight countries – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – had all programme agreements in place at the end of 2019.

  1. 1.Out of the 80 programme agreements that were signed, 43 programmes are funded by the EEA Grants only, 20 by the Norway Grants and 17 by both the EEA and the Norway Grants.

Step 4 Supporting ideas for a green, competitive and inclusive Europe

We have now launched 1492 calls for proposals since the first calls were released in 2017. Out of these, 96 were launched in 2019. In addition to advertising these opportunities, we have held matchmaking events throughout the Beneficiary and Donor States to encourage and facilitate cooperation with partners from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

  1. 2.This figure corresponds to 117 calls for proposals under the EEA Grants, 29 calls for proposals under the Norway Grants, and 3 under both.
Credits: Josefina Blanco

This has generally been done through cooperation between the institution responsible for the programme in the Beneficiary State, the Financial Mechanism Office (the secretariat of the EEA and Norway Grants) and partners in the Donor States or International Organisations.

Credits: Josefina Blanco

149 Calls for proposals launched since the first release in 2017 96 of these were launched in 2019