Monday

6th Apr 2020

Norway defends NGOs in Hungary and Poland

  • Under the next Norway scheme, which runs until 2021, Poland stands to receive €809 million, Hungary €215 million in aid. (Photo: EEA and Norway grants)

Norway's prime minister Erna Solberg has said Hungary and Poland must allow independent funding of charities as part of a €1 billion Norwegian aid scheme, which is currently up for renewal.

Poland and Hungary want Norway to waive a requirement that EEA (European Economic Area) funds to civil society must be channelled through an administrative body that is meant to be independent of their governments. But Solberg, commenting for the first time on the ongoing negotiations, rejected the demand.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We cannot allow Poland and Hungary to control the money to civil society. We must have independent organisations that assign them," she told Norwegian press agency NTB.

She also warned against "illiberal" powers that do not understand the need for an independent civil society.

"The civic sector shouldn't be controlled by the state," said the Norwegian PM, who heads a coalition between Conservatives and the anti-immigrant, libertarian Progress party.

Solberg raised the matter with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker during a visit to Brussels last week.

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, in exchange for their access to the EU single market, fund initiatives aimed at reducing social and economic disparities in 15 poorer EU member states, through the so-called EEA funds.

Norway is the biggest donor and Poland the largest beneficiary, followed by Romania and Hungary.

Under the next scheme, which runs until 2021, Poland stands to receive €809 million and Hungary €215 million in aid.

A small part of the funds, roughly 10 percent, is dedicated to civic society, a mandatory part of the support programme.

Negotiations between Norway and Poland are stuck in deadlock. Another round of negotiations with Hungary will take place later in May.

Norway's EU minister Frank Bakke-Jensen, formally in charge of the talks, told NTB he hoped to close negotiations by the end of the year.

He said he did not worry about them dragging out.

"It's a good training camp for young democracies to sit at such a negotiating table," he said.

Interview

Polish government in bid to defund NGOs

Ruling Law and Justice has promised to overhaul the NGO sector. The move could strain relations with Norway, a major donor to Polish civic life.

Poland avoids talks on rule-of-law sanctions

EU ministers meeting in Brussels asked the Polish government to reverse its judicial reform, in their first discussion of the European Commission's probe.

Feature

Gay rights at heart of Poland's value conflict

Anti-gay statements are part of an anti-EU narrative propagated by Poland's ruling Law and Justice party. But only a few politicians from the opposition are willing to challenge the image of Poland as a homophobic country.

News in Brief

  1. Three arrested in deadly French 'terror' attack
  2. Greece quarantines two migrant camps
  3. UK premier Boris Johnson hospitalised with coronavirus
  4. Former Libyan rebel leader Jibril dies of corona
  5. EU waives customs duties, VAT on vital medical imports
  6. Air France-KLM seeks state-backed loans
  7. New ventilators for EU will take time, commission says
  8. Drugs firms managing to meet demand, EU says

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Feature

Paradox: Nordics' privileged youth feel miserable

Young people in the Nordic countries are among the most privileged in the world - yet many of them feel miserable. The Nordic Council is concerned and aims to find out why.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Coronabonds clash continues This WEEK
  2. EU depicts Africa's health system as a threat
  3. Greenland watches ... and waits for virus
  4. Coronavirus exposes lack of common data approach
  5. Virus recovery talks should ditch old taboos: EU's Vestager
  6. EU's 'Irini' Libya mission: Europe's Operation Cassandra
  7. Slovak army deployed to quarantine Roma settlements
  8. Lockdown: EU officials lobbied via WhatsApp and Skype

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us