Tuesday

23rd May 2017

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.

"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.

Parents of EU children win right to stay

Countries cannot automatically refuse residence to parents of EU children simply because the other parent could care for the minor, the EU's top court ruled on Wednesday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  2. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  4. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  5. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  7. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  8. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  9. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  10. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  11. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Cost of Speaking Out: Human Rights Violations Committed in Belarus