EEA funds are a form of non-returnable foreign aid awarded by Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein to new members of the EU – between ten and twenty countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltic States. In return for the aid provided, the Donor States gain access to the EU internal market even though they are not members of the Community. The Fund’s main objective is to help narrow the economic and social differences within the EEA and strengthen bilateral relations between the Donor States and the Beneficiary State.
Under a treaty between Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and the EU, 10% of funds from the EEA fund in countries that receive aid is designated for the Active Citizens Fund to support the civic society. In each of the fifteen countries, the Fund is administered by an independent operator selected in a call for submissions by the FMO in Brussels, which manages programmes financed using the Norwegian Funds and EEA Funds.
Under the international treaties, the Active Citizens Fund provides support for activities in the following areas:
• democracy, active citizenship, good governance and transparency;
• human rights and equality through combating and prevention of discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity;
• social justice and inclusion of vulnerable groups;
• gender equality and countering gender-based violence;
• the environment and climate change.