Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland have decided to suspend further disbursements of funds to Hungary under the EEA and Norway Grants scheme, following the Hungarian government decision to transfer the implementation and monitoring of the EEA Grants out of the central government administration.
The EEA Grants and Norway Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway “to reducing economic and social disparities and to strengthening bilateral relations with 16 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe.” The EEA Grants and Norway Grants are set up for five-year period, and €1.798 billion in funding is channeled through 150 programmes in the 16 beneficiary countries, for 2009-2014. The country allocation of funding is based on population size and GDP per capita, making Hungary the third largest beneficiary state, following Poland and Romania. For the current period, €153.3 million has been allocated, of which €11.76 million has already been paid out, according to official data. Key areas of support include: strengthening civil society, improving the well-being of children and youth at risk, increasing competitiveness of green enterprises, and enhancing research-based knowledge through research cooperation. For the 2004-2009, €135.1 million in funding has been allocated to Hungary.
The unilateral decision on the part of Hungary to transfer the national implementation and monitoring of the programmes and funds from the ministry to an independent, state-owned company is in breach of the rules for the for the EEA and Norway Grants and the agreements Hungary has entered into with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The transfer was set as of 1 January, 2014. As the dialogue with the Hungarian Government has not led to a solution, the three countries decided to suspend the grants. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are worried that the lack of a national focal point will have a negative effect on the implementation of programmes in Hungary. However, the two parties stay open to discussions in order to reach a mutually acceptable solution as soon as possible.