Second Cycle of EEA and Norway Grants Fruitfully Closed
The ceremony to celebrate fruitful closing of the cycle 2009-2014 in the EEA and the Norway financing mechanisms was held on 16 November, at the Liszt Ferenc Airport, Terminal 1 in Budapest.
The Prime Minister’s Office organised the conference, opened by Ms. Eszter, Vitályos, undersecretary of state, in charge of EU development affairs. She said in her speech that eight years of collective work, involving the EU, the donor countries and Hungary had come to an end on that day. This cycle, being the second occasion that Hungary received the funds, was definitely fruitful for Hungary.
- Preparation of the new financing cycle 2014-2021 is being in progress, said Ms. Eszter Vitályos, secretary of state – our common target being an agreement reached among Hungary, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The Ambassador of Norway, Mr. Olav Berstad greeted the audience and uttered how pleased he was for Hungary could withdraw the funds granted by the Norway and EEA Grants. Then Henning Stiro, director of the Financing Mechanism Office greeted those present. In his welcome speech he expressed his hope to have a fruitful future cooperation with Hungary for which the Financing Mechanism Office would be able to provide to the participants firm fundamentals.
Following the welcome speeches, the National Contact Coordinator, that is the Prime Minister’s Office presented its summary. The Head of Office, Mr. Adrián Savanyú gave an overview of the entire financing mechanism and the achievements. In the cycle concerned, the member states of the European Economic Area granted 70 million Euros while the Norway Grant provided 83.2 million Euros to Hungary.
- EEA and EU member states agreed to provide funds and under the agreement we provide markets. – summarised Mr. Adrián Savanyú, General Head of Department. According to him, Hungary had set up a three-level system of institutions to withdraw the funds, and had appointed the Prime Minister’s Office to act as national contact coordinator. Program planning was embarked on in 2011, and only two years later were the invitations to applications announced. Unfortunately, in 2014, the reorganisation in Hungarian public administration entailed loose one year forced interval whereas cooperation projects needed alterations in every field. Fortunately, donor countries remained flexible enough and conceded prolongation in the case of each project. Altogether 155 projects were launched, which was great success with tight work schedules behind. 87% was the success rate with 146 projects implemented out of 155. In certain fields, 96% of the available funds were utilised.
After the summary, the Program Fields were presented through sample projects. In the first segment of the conference, Ms. Katalin Papp, head of department at the Ministry of National Development, presented the Energy Efficiency (HU02) and renewable energy (HU03) programmes, and told that t the outset it had seemed the programme would be unfeasible. Finally, once the thwarting obstacles and impediments had been overcome, 6 schools were reconstructed and refurbished within the framework of the energy efficiency programme, and a biogas power plant was established in Kiskunhalas under the renewable energy programme. On both fields abundant networking systems were established, which was also considered a remarkable success by the head of department.
Following that, Ms. Judit Bálint, the REC programme manager communicated the achievements regarding the programme: Adaptation to climatic changes (HU04). In that programme, 7 million-euro budget sufficed to implement 10 projects. Then Ms. Veronika Móra, director of Ökotárs Alapítvány (Eco-Mate Foundation) projected short documentaries on sample projects to demonstrate implementation of the Civil Fund (HU05) programme.
After the lunch-break, presentation of diverse program areas was continued, namely with the description of the Cultural Heritage Protection (HU07) programme, presented by the programme manager, Ms. Andrea Tóth, on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office. In the course of this programme, urban constructed heritage protection and reconstruction of some buildings were implemented, but in the spirit of cultural and artistic variegation, projects aiding the Roma to bridge the gap, theatrical performances and symposia were also funded from the grants.
Mr. Szabolcs Bokodi, a manager of Tempus Public Foundation in charge of higher education described the Scholarship Programme (HU08), addressing predominantly the higher education sector with Norwegian contribution. Professional visits, higher education mobilities, training courses and inter-institutional cooperation projects were implemented with the aid of the grant amounting to 3.5 million Euros. In total, 126 funded applications were realised in the framework of this programme.
Dr. Márta Szabó, programme manager, represented the Szent István University, who presented the Green Industrial Innovations programme (HU09), in which the university itself acted as programme operator. Altogether 36 projects were implemented including ones aimed at reducing the mass of waste, and at cutting back on air, water and soil pollution.
The programme operator, Dr. Gergő Korponai presented the Capacity extension and inter-institutional cooperation programme (HU11), on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities assisted establishment of the cooperation, with a fund amounting to 12.7 million euros and focused around two comprehensive targets. On the one hand institutional capacity was enhanced, on the other hand the services provided by local governmental authorities were improved. The buildings of local government authorities were refurbished involving eight local governments, as well as new community spaces were constructed, such as the in Morahalom, for the elderly. LocaL governments were to collaborate with Norwegian partners. In some cases, the networking was so successful that it even entered into the preparatory stage of contracting between partnership towns.
Mr. Attila Srágli, the director of the National Healthcare Services Centre presented the Public health initiatives (HU12) programme. Work conditions of health visitors working in Roma communities were improved from the 8.5 million euros budget, and in three underprivileged counties several programs were organised for communities in need. The programme was devoted to improving the standard of public health services.
Presentation of the programmes was followed by the announcement of photo competition awards, which was intended to demonstrate the achievements of the EEA and Norway Grants in Hungary through photos.
The competition, announced by the Prime Minister’s Office, invited photos and photomontages to set in the highlight and present the achievements and improvements implemented with the aid of the Grants.
Culture related program closed the conference. Besides the performance by the pupils from the Móra Ferenc Primary School, Budapest District XIV, the Hungarian National Ballet Foundation’s performance and the concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra Hungary Concert and Festival Organiser were also staged. The cultural programme was closed by the 4 For Dance’s performance.