Norway and Greece sign important cooperation agreements

Signing of EEA Agreement - Photo:Norwegian Embassy in Athens
The Norwegian State Secretary, Mr. Jens Frølich Holte signed on behalf of Norway and the Deputy Minister of Development and Investments, Mr. Yannis Tsakiris, signed on behalf of the Hellenic Republic. The Greek side was also represented by Mr. Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of Development and Investments.

Today, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Greece signed an Agreement on funding totaling 24.4 million under the EEA Grants 2014-2021 on the Program for Asylum and Migration and the Program for Water Resources Management respectively.

The main objective of the co-financed program "Asylum and Migration" is to ensure the proper functioning of the national asylum and migration management systems, while at the same time assist asylum seekers to exercise basic rights. The program aims at upgrading services for Third Country Nationals arriving in Greece with emphasis places on vulnerable groups and unaccompanied minors. Additionally, the program will contribute to strengthening the bilateral relations among national institutions that play a critical role in the field of asylum and migration and Donor States partners through the exchange of expert know-how and the adoption of best practices.

The co-financed program "Environment - Water Resources Management" aims to improve the environmental status of water ecosystems by encouraging the rational use of water mainly in vulnerable areas and islands. The program will support projects and innovative technologies for water leakages in water grids, as well as the procurement of desalination plants or the upgrade of old desalination facilities. Moreover, the program will finance research studies for solution-based improvement of the status of water bodies and water management.

The total budget of the “Asylum and Migration” program is EUR 19.4 million (of which EUR 16.5 million is covered by the EEA Grants and EUR 2.9 million are co-financed by the Greek government), while the total budget of the “Environment-Water Management” program is EUR 5 million (of which EUR 1 million is co-financed from the national contribution). The Agreement is part of the European Economic Area (EEA) Financial Instrument 2014-2021 between the Hellenic Republic and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Statements

Mr. Jens Frølich Holte, Norwegian State Secretary said: "The field of migration and asylum is challenging for both Greece and Europe. There is a need for common European solutions and migration and asylum is now a priority sector for our cooperation under the EEA Grants. This assistance is a practical and tangible way of showing our support and solidarity with Greece and Greek authorities. I am also happy that can contribute to other sectors within Greece such as water management."

Mr. Yannis Tsakiris, Deputy Minister of Development and Investments emphasized:
"Today we signed two very important agreements with the European Economic Area. The first is for the national asylum management and migration, which is an issue that is not only national but also European. This agreement is also corresponding with the Prime Minister's recent announcements on the protection of unaccompanied minors. The second agreement relates to water management, promoting innovation and renewable energy in this area and makes us even stronger in responding to the challenge posed by climate change. We thank the donor countries and we are confident that we will continue this cooperation with even more important projects."

Facts about the EEA and Norway Grants

  • Under the EEA Agreement, Norway is part of the European internal market.
  • The EEA Agreement sets out the common goal of working together to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe and to strengthen cooperation between European countries. Norway contributes to this through the EEA and Norway Grants.
  • EUR 2.8 billion will be available under the grant scheme for the period 2014-2021, to be divided between 15 beneficiary countries. Of this, EUR 116.7 million will be allocated to Greece.
  • Norway provides some 98 % of this funding; the remainder is provided by Iceland and Liechtenstein.