While taking a trip to visit my parents-in-law in their village about 1 hour from Kraków, we passed through many little towns and villages on the way. As we travelled, I noticed signs advertising a ‘Norway Grant’ and it seemed familiar to me. Finally, I remembered that it was also advertised on the makeover of the Sukiennice in the Kraków Rynek. My interest was raised, as it is one thing to see it on one of the main attractions in Kraków city centre, but another to see it in small towns on the borders of the Śląsk/Małopolska (Silesia/Lesser Poland) voivodship border. I decided to do some research.
The EEA & Norway Grants have been in place since 2004, as a mechanism through which Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland (as members of the European Economic Area) agreed to pool funds in order to minimise social and economic disparity in Europe. The fund is aimed at 15 countries in Central and Southern Europe (including Poland) where the economic levels and GDP (Gross Domestic Product) are much lower than other parts of Europe.
The grants have been assigned in the form of individual projects, larger programmes or in block grants. However, the main criteria used for determining which countries get funding are population and GDP per capita. This means that Poland is actually the biggest beneficiary in this programme, receiving 43% of funds allocated so far. And interestingly, on the opposite side, Norway is the biggest contributor by far. It supplies 97% of the funding for both the EEA and Norway Grant programmes. This means that Norway and Poland have a strong working relationship due to this interaction.
As a result of the above effect of Norway being key contributor and Poland being the biggest receiver, it means that Poland has received over €550 million since the grant programme began. This would be almost 2.25 billion PLN using today’s conversion rates. Some of the key areas in which funding have been focused include:
– Environmental improvements, by improving energy efficiency in over 300 public buildings.
– Conservation of Poland’s cultural heritage
– Improvement of border controls in line with the Schengen agreement
– Strengthening police cooperation against organised and cross-border crime
Some of the more interesting projects that caught my eye include:
The grant programme originally ran from 2004 to 2009 but a new programme has been agreed for the years of 2009 to 2014, so this should see continued interaction between Norway and Poland.
Thus, it shows that the improvement of Poland continues with thanks to Norway and others using projects and grants such as these. So, it’s worth saying “Takk/Dzięki” to the Norwegians here!
More information on the grant programmes can be found below:
Overview of Poland’s involvement (in English): http://www.eeagrants.org/id/46
News on Polish projects (in English): http://www.eeagrants.org/id/13?sector=-&country=46
Information from the Norwegian embassy in Warsaw on the grant programme (in Polish): http://www.amb-norwegia.pl/News_and_events/Pomoc-z-EOG/