MinBane

I write what I like.

Archive for the tag “Lithuania”

A look into the EEA Grants and the Norwegian Grants to the EU Member states; efficiency of bureaucratic procedures is needed!

EAA Norway Grants 2016

This here is the outtakes of a report that we’re released now recently showing the wished aspects of the EEA Grants who are most donations from the Norwegian state. The Norwegian State has had through the EEA and EFTA had a company called COWI too look through the donor-funding and the interviewing of the ones getting the allocated funds.

With this in mind are surely other who have been commenting on the matter as the Report dropped in June 2016, I just got it today. So is it right? This is my take on it and here are the quotes that are significant to me and the process and overlook of the use of funds.

How much money at stake:

“The allocation of funds is channelled through 150 programmes within 32 programme areas in 16 beneficiary countries. For the period 2009-14, approximately 1.8 billion EUR were set aside under the grants. During the same period, the Norway Grants supported 61 programmes in the 13 EU Member States that joined in 2004, 2007 and 20133 respectively, and the EEA Grants supported 86 programmes in those countries as well as in Greece, Spain and Portugal. The allocation of funds to the countries is based on population size and GDP per capita” (EFTA, P:17, 2016).

The Aim:

“The aim of the mid-term evaluation is to assess to what extent and in which way the EEA/Norway Grants contribute to strengthening bilateral relations between donor and beneficiary states” (EFTA, P:18, 2016).

The Norwegian OAG report in 2013:

“The OAG found that bilateral efforts were not sufficiently planned and communicated at the starting phase of the 2009-14 funding period and that e.g. the key guidance documents were finalised too late” (…) “The audit expects that bilateral relations in the 2009-14 funding period will be better safeguarded than during the previous period given the fact that the current 23 Norwegian DPPs have entered into donor programme partnerships with programme operators in the beneficiary states” (EFTA, P:34-35, 2016).

Joint Research Projects:

“Possibly due to the fact that in the research field, international funding is available for joint research projects from for example the large EU programmes Horizon, etc. This kind of funding is not available to other sectors. The benefits in terms of developing international and EU networks and learning about international initiatives in research are very clear. The EEA and Norway Grants support these processes by being an important contributor and often facilitating a first international cooperation for both parties. However, the evaluation also shows that such networks and cooperation cannot always continue after the expiration of the external funding” (EFTA, P:49, 2016).

Implementation of Norway Grants:  

“A number of countries have decided to use the same system for implementation of the EEA and Norway Grants as they use for the EU structural funds. Programme and project stakeholders find that the structural funds system is too bureaucratic and that the financial rules are too cumbersome. The national system for implementation of structural funds and related procedures may not be very relevant to a partner/bilateral relation focused programme, especially when this programme includes a donor project partner, who has a hard time complying with the checks and balances of EU Member State structural fund programmes. Programmes in the Research and Scholarship sector regret the decision not to use ERASMUS+ procedures” (EFTA, P:56, 2016).

Allocation to the projects:

“99.3% of the total funds have been allocated to the five focus countries, and 42.9% of total programme funds have been incurred to date. The share of incurred funds varies across the five countries from 35.6% in Romania to 56.4% in Estonia” (EFTA, P: 63, 2016).

Pro Momunta Slovakia

One Slovakian project – Project title: Pro Monumenta:

” The project entitled Pro Monumenta is a cooperation between Pamiatkový úrad SR (The Monuments Board of the Slovak Republic), who is the project controller and Riksantikvaren (The Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Environment). The two institutions first established contact back in 2010 based on a Slovak initiative financed by the Ministry of Culture” (…) “The project was implemented from 1 January 2014 and was scheduled to terminate on 30 March 2016. The main goal of Pro Monumenta in Slovakia is to establish and equip three mobile teams with the capacity to identify and repair easy-to-mend defects at historic monuments, which have led or may lead to deterioration (including basic roof repairs, repairs to chimneys, rainwater drains, fixing of lightning conductors). Major damage identified in the project is documented in a monument technical report, which is stored electronically in a common database” (…) “In this case, the Norwegian partner mainly learns from Slovak experiences and approaches to the implementation of such activities. However, the Norwegian partner also supports the project through its human and technical expertise, such as through an expert from Nasjonele Fervardung, who is expected to arrive to Slovakia to conduct workshops for team members on monument conservation and repairs within a given area” (…) “The project is a clear example of the great contextual and bilateral potential of the programme, if properly implemented. According to the assessment by the project coordinators the project impacts are visible both in Slovakia and Norway (establishment of the formal programmes in the project area) and as Mr. Reznik summarized: “The project significantly improved bilateral co-operation between Norwegian and Slovak experts in the area – especially because it focused on an area of the common interest” (EFTA, P: 67, 2016).

How it is in Latvia and Estonia:

“One explanation for this may be found in Latvia, where some stakeholders indicated that since the bilateral objective is included in the MoU, cooperation is therefore embedded at programme level in most programmes. Since most programmes, particularly in Latvia and Estonia, also have a DPP, the programmes automatically focus on the bilateral relations. This may indicate a tendency for the bilateral aspect to become somewhat formalistic, along the lines of ‘we have a DPP therefore our programme adheres to the bilateral objective’, rather than it being a matter of content and mutual results” (…) “In Estonia, for instance, one indicator has been used in half of the programmes, namely the mandatory indicator “Number of project partnership agreements in the beneficiary public sector”. In more than 30% of the Estonian programmes, no indicator has been used, including the two other mandatory indicators “Number of project partnership agreements in beneficiary civil society” and “…in the beneficiary private sector”. These two indicators have both been used in only 10% of the programmes in 2016. Most programmes are required to make use of at least one of the three obligatory indicators, yet if adding together the top three lines of Table 5-6 for each country, it can be seen that some shares do not sum to 100%. This may be explained by the fact that there are programmes that do not require partnerships, and in some programmes it has not been possible to find relevant partners” (EFTA, P: 69-70, 2016).

Overall Conclusion:

“The overall conclusion on the efficiency of EEA and Norway Grants is that a number of dedicated tools to develop bilateral relations at programme and project level have been introduced. Most of these tools directly support the work of the programmes and projects towards developing bilateral partnership relations, shared results, knowledge and understanding and wider effects. DPPs, bilateral funds and donor project partners all support this goal. The main issue for DPPs and donor project partners is securing the availability of a sufficient number of partners to meet the demand. The main hindering factor identified across the programmes and projects is the administrative procedures (complicated, slow and time consuming) in the beneficiary countries and the fact that the systems used by the beneficiary states are very different systems. Another significant factor identified is the time frame of projects, which due to a late start-up of programmes, can have a very short implementation period” (EFTA, P: 117, 2016).

Clarify the reporting of the projects:

“It is recommended that more instruction be given on the expected contents of reporting on the bilateral objective to avoid the current wide variations in reporting practice and style and the non-informative focus on bilateral activities. It is also recommended that the programme reports include the bilateral indicators selected for the programme. It is suggested that the example of one of the focus countries (Estonia) is adopted. In Estonia, the bilateral indicators are annexed to the report, complete with a justification/explanation of why they were chosen” (EFTA, P: 121, 2016).

Recommendation for bilateral projects:

“It is recommended that focus be directed towards the predefined projects under the bilateral national funds. As mentioned above, the predefined projects provide an interesting opportunity for strategic level cooperation. It is unclear whether the callsat national level for smaller cooperation projects provide added value. Therefore, it is recommended that such calls be differentiated, either in terms of topic or timing, from the bilateral funds at programme level in order to for them to serve a real function (demand/meet a need)” (EFTA P: 121-122, 2016).

Recommendation for bilateral projects II:

It is also recommended to standardise implementation systems and rules so that every programme does not have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ (and spend a lot of time doing this). Especially DPPs working on the same programme type in several beneficiary countries could benefit from similar/aligned rules of implementation” (EFTA, P: 122, 2016).

Recommendation for bilateral projects III:

Particularly, data relevant to monitoring and assessment of the bilateral objective (results) are difficult to extract from some of the reports. Hence, the evaluator recommends that reporting requirements be standardised and clearly communicated to all relevant stakeholders (i.e. what content is required under which headings)” (EFTA, P: 122, 2016).

eea-grants-outreach-event-presentations-7-638

This here proves that actually the monies that going to the Projects are well-used, but those estimates are issued and checked in the same ways, not specifically different between the Educational or other more industrial collaboration between the Donor-Nations and the representatives.

The COWI report are clear on the levels of ability to use the funds, but have questions of finding clear partners for the projects as the allocation of funds is not an issue. That is mostly put on the spot and paid to the partner program either by the direct from Norwegian grants or by the EEA grants that are fuelled by most of the Norwegian donations. Therefore the monies to the nations and projects are arriving.

The indication of the efficiencies and the learning of the projects are different from what type of Norwegian organization is behind the collaborate effort, as much as the donor nation and the projects are proof of the development and goals of the projects that are funded this way. So they are properly examined and not like with this report they are settled with the same systems and with no consideration of the extent or the actual field they we’re prospecting. So the numbers and the proof of results are questionable. Even if the funds are used and the certain results are visible in certain cultural and historical aspects; we can still question the validity of the results be one-fits all like socks when we talking learning-projects, refurbishing old artefacts and even bilateral corporation one set subject.

The indication of that each separate project under the funding have been using lot of time to find ways of implementing the collaborative effort and finding Norwegian partners for the projects funding through the grants; also how they are supposed to work to fulfil the degrees of plans that have to be there to be able to get funding through the EEA and Norwegian Grants. Also the question under how the outsider COWI struggled with understanding and getting the capacity to see the value of some of the results in some reports from the projects as they we’re all written in different ways and different lengths. Show’s the capacity of streamlining the production of reports and the evaluation of the funding through the bilateral projects as the methods of explaining is and can be hard get the data that is needed to tell the story of the projects. Therefore the methods of reporting need to change and maybe even be in one standard, so the EEA, the bilateral partners and the donors can show their success and value for money. Something that the citizens for both the organizations getting the funds and also the donors who needs to prove that the money is not wasted abroad… something that is key reason for the report to show the progress of the grants in the first place. Peace.

Reference:

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Financial Mechanism Office (FMO) – ‘Mid-term evaluation of the support to strengthened bilateral relations under the EEA and Norway Grants FINAL REPORT’ (June 2016) link: https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/17c16170595b473ab59c7edc5c0208a7/2016-evaluering-bilaterale-relasjoner.pdf

Advertisements

Memo 15/3046: EC – Lithuanians are getting used to Euro Cash

LitEuro

SC/11719: 22. December 2014 – Broad Agreement in Security Council Wrap-Up on Strong Push to Overcome Divisions, as Members Strive to Abandon Outdated ‘Logic’ in Favour of Ethical Options

7352nd Meeting (AM) – Security Council

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:18 p.m.

The Security Council had rallied to consensus on several important issues in December, the Permanent Representative of Chad and President of that body said in a monthly wrap-up meeting, as members stressed the need to press ahead on issues and areas where they had failed to produce results.

The open debates on strengthening the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union and on the linkages between terrorism and transnational organized crime provided the basis for the international community to bolster action, Mahamat Zene Cherif said.

With the adoption of eight resolutions and four presidential statements on diverse and crucial issues of the day, the month’s session was not only busy but also condensed.  Further, by inviting the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to closed consultations, the Council demonstrated that human rights were not ignored behind closed doors, he added.

Several representatives lauded the Council’s achievements during the month, including the first resolution on transborder organized crime and terrorism and humanitarian relief in Syria.  They also specified areas where progress had been lacking, including in Ukraine and South Sudan.  Some described the Council’s failure to achieve a political solution to the Syrian crisis as a “dark chapter”.

The representative of the United States said the Council had been productive in a growing number of areas, which underscored the importance of maintaining focus and identifying priorities.  The body should focus on Syria in both its security and humanitarian dimensions and address the crises in Ukraine, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Yemen through greater collective efforts.

As a committed “pen holder”, France had sometimes become “hyperactive”, that country’s representative said, adding that members had always responded with faith in their values and taken decisions with great skill.  He expressed hope that the Russian Federation would engage in de-escalating tensions in both words and deed.

The Russian Federation representative said the Council should express concern and take action in “genuine” areas such the threat of Syrian chemical weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and the humanitarian obstacles posed by their increased territorial control.

The representative of Argentina said the Council often seemed to be stuck in the logic of the twentieth century and driven by geopolitical considerations rather than those of ethics, even in situations of massive violations of human rights and international law.

It was important for the Council to engage more in regional approaches to resolving crises, the representative of the Republic of Korea said, adding that the open debate on strengthening the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union had been an important opportunity for strategic collaboration.

The representative of Rwanda said his delegation had worked hard to fulfil the pledges it had made while campaigning for a Council seat and expressed hope that lessons learned from initiatives on peacekeeping, improving working methods, and preventing violence against women would be heeded.

The representative of Chile, the incoming Council president, said his country would focus on the deep-seated causes of conflicts and achieving broad solutions in the Middle East, the Democratic People’S Republic of Korea and other areas.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Australia, China, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Putin flexing with sanctions on the Western-hemisphere and their reactions to it.

Well, we knew it was coming. We all did who have followed recent events. Putin is a big-man in his own way. He leading his country and does it in his style and fashion. It is understandable that the western-hemisphere is reacting to. They see the action of the Kremlin and Russians as stepping a bit too far, the same does the Russians who seem to think the European involvement in Ukraine. Well, to be honest I am not going to grind directly on the matters of Donetsk, Crimea or separatist or Russian involvement in certain districts of Ukraine. This piece will be about the certain new press releases and their press statements from nations and boards on the matter of new Russian sanctions as counter to the ones set by the EU and Western nations.

Russian Press release on the 6th August:

“Vladimir Putin signed Executive Order On Special Economic Measures to Protect the Russian Federation’s Security” (…)”Russian state bodies of power, federal authorities, local self-government bodies, legal entities established in accordance with Russian law, and physical individuals under Russian jurisdiction shall, in carrying out their activities, respect for a duration of one year following this Executive Order’s entry into force a ban or restriction on foreign economic operations involving the import to Russia of particular kinds of agricultural produce, raw materials and foodstuffs originating in countries that have decided to impose economic sanctions on Russian legal entities and/or physical individuals, or have joined such decisions”(…)” The Russian Federation Government has been given instructions accordingly. In particular, the Government has been instructed to take measures to ensure balanced goods markets and prevent accelerating price rises for agricultural products and foodstuffs; to organise together with regional authorities timely monitoring of goods markets; and act together with associations of goods producers, retailers and organisations to take measures to increase supply of domestic goods” (Kremlin, 2014).

“The Executive Order takes effect upon its signing” (Kremlin, 2014).

Bernama reports that Prime Minister Dmity Medvedev said at a cabinet meeting:

“The current situation as it is, the Russian government is considering a number of retaliatory steps” (…)”I will mention some of them, but that does not mean that they will be introduced at once. The measures include a ban on transit flights by European and US air carriers to Southeast Asia, to the Asia-Pacific Region” (Bernama, 2014)

German response to the sanctions from Russia:

The Federal German government gave its statement. This through deputy government spokesman Christiane Wirtz, here is their statement:

“that the massive presence of troops at the border is not helping de-escalate the situation” (…)”The German government would thus naturally welcome a withdrawal of the Russian troops from the border in this area” (…)”to stabilise and further de-escalate the situation” (…)”The presence of troops in the area is not a step towards making the situation more peaceful” (…)”particularly help bring about the called for de-escalation,” (…)”to do nothing that could further destabilise the situation in Ukraine” (…)”We demand the greatest possible transparency” (…)”The UNHCR does not have any first-hand figures for the number of refugees that have left Ukraine for Russia” (…)”currently no legal basis” (Bundesregierung, 2014).

The EU measures:

  • Imposing an arms embargo
  • Russian state-controlled banks will have it more difficult to get funds in the EU capitol market.
  • Export of Hi-Tech goods and oil equipment stopped.
  • Export of Duel use goods which is used by the Russian Army is stopped.

This is after the second range of sanctions made by the EU on the 28th July from the European Commission.

(Bundesregierung, 2014)

Writz comments on the sanctions:

“that the European Commission does offer assistance for special cases and special situations” (…)”It should surprise nobody that sanctions come at a price – especially those who have for months been declaring that harsh sanctions are a test of the credibility of European politics. The German government is in touch with the German private sector, I have been in contact with businesses since March, so as to keep the consequences to a calculable level at least. It should also be possible to adapt and scale back sanctions if political progress is made in efforts to resolve the conflict”. Frank-Walter Steinmeier comments on the matter as well: “That is why, in spite of all difficulties, we are keeping channels to Russia open” (…)” Experience shows that whoever increases political pressure to convince the other side to negotiate, must himself also be willing to negotiate” (Bundesregierung, 2014).

It needed only less than 24 hours before the world is answering this. The first one I will show is the EU.

Statement by the EU Commission spokesman on the 7th August:

“The European Union regrets the announcement by the Russian Federation of measures which will target imports of food and agricultural products. This announcement is clearly politically motivated. The Commission will assess the measures in question as soon as we have more information as to their full content and extent. We underline that the European Union’s restrictive measures are directly linked with the illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of Ukraine. The European Union remains committed to de-escalating the situation in Ukraine. All should join in this effort. Following full assessment by the Commission of the Russian Federation’s measures, we reserve the right to take action as appropriate” (EU, 2014).

This is not the only appropriate comment have been sent out after the Russians decided to retaliate the measures made by the west. At this point the UK Government had to give a response.

The response comes from the United Kingdom HMG with the Honor Phillip Hammond MP of Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Honor of David Lidington MP of Business, Innovation and Skills. Here is what they say:

“Russia has no grounds to impose sanctions and should use its influence with violent Russian-backed separatists to stop destabilising Ukraine” (…)”We have been pushing for a strong and determined international response to Russia’s unacceptable behaviour in Ukraine. We have been clear that we are prepared to play our part and that there will be costs, but this does not diminish our commitment” (…)”Instead of retaliating, Russia should be using its influence with the violent Russian-backed separatists to stop destabilising Ukraine” (…)”We are still considering the impacts of the ban but we do not expect it to have a significant overall effect on our agricultural industry – the affected agricultural exports to Russia account for some 0.2% of our food, feed and drink total agricultural exports” (…)” We will continue to work closely with trade associations and industry to help them monitor the impact of this ban on their business” (UK,2014).

Norwegian counter to the Russians:

Norwegian Foreign minister Børge Brende has also addressed the matter. Børge Brende is saying: “That Russians import embargo is unreasonable. That the Russian goes to this measures show how important that we as allies and partners react to the Russian destabilization of Ukraine. I am agreeing with the EU and the way portray their actions as a political motivated” (…)”We will take the Russian measures seriously, but it’s still early to see the outcome for the Norwegian businesses. We are going through the measures with EU and other who have been targeted. With them are we trying to find the best solution to deal with this” (…)”instead of reduction of the conflict in eastern-Ukraine, instead Russians to uphold it and escalating it. There going significant numbers of arms across the boarders from Russia to Ukraine. It is essential that the Russians will be met with clear and sound reaction from the international community. And out of the regarding the Norwegian state in foreign and security political, we have to stand by our partners and allies” (Regjeringen, 2014).

Lithuanian response to Russia on the 7th August:

President Dalia Grybauskaitė says: “Such reaction from Russia was predictable. But the impact on our economy will not be significant. Lithuania has already gained much experience during the economic blockade in the first years of independence, the crisis, and the last-year sanctions on our carriers and manufacturers of dairy products. Our business already knows how to counter the hostile challenges of our big neighbor. It is able to find new markets and hedge against risks. This makes us even more flexible and strong” (Lithuania, 2014).

Latvian response to the Russia sanctions:  

In another Baltic state Latvia, Prime Minister Aimdota Straujuma has called in for a emergency meeting on the Russian sanctions. The date hasn’t been set yet, but the report says it’s likely to be on Monday the 11th of August. At the meeting they will evaluate and asses the sanction and calculate the result and change it could have on the economy of Latvia (Leta, 2014).

The Finnish response to the Russian sanctions: 

In Finland Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has commented on the matter: “It was to be expected that Russia would respond to the sanctions issued by the EU. The impact of the Russian sanctions on the Finnish economy and Finnish businesses must be carefully examined before the government budget session. I will give a Prime Minister’s announcement to Parliament as soon as it convenes. The measures will affect a number of other EU countries and the Russians themselves, too” (…)”Finland will continue diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis both with its EU partners and through bilateral means”. The Finnish MP of Agriculture and Forestry Petteri Orpo is saying: “Russia is our food industry’s main export area. Dairy products account for about 87 per cent of our exports to Russia as regards the products on the list of banned imports. We will hold a meeting today at the ministry to discuss measures to minimise the effects of the Russian import ban and to open new export markets”. Lenita Toivakka the MP of European Affairs and Foreign trade says: “I am very concerned about the effects of the Russian retaliatory sanctions on individual companies. I will personally visit the companies that are hit the hardest by the measures” (Finnish, 2014)

After thought:

We can see and I am sure if I did more digging, there would end up more rabbit out of the hat. Because all the ones that are hit by the sanctions would response to it and make sense of it. Therefore we see now that all this governments’ officials and MPs and spokesmen are telling how it is in their area and how they see the whole conflict between Russia and Ukraine. We could dedicate ourselves to see into the difference between and glean the various contexts and how the boarder countries are reacting compared to those who are further away from Moscow. Still, the tone is subtle, and honest. Also, even some seem heartbroken and disgusted by the flexing from Putin. The EU Commission, German Federation, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia, Finnish and UK, I have complied today. I hope you have seen it and gotten something out of it.

Links:

Bernama – ‘Russia Working On Measures To Close Its Airspace To Asia, Pacific-bound Flights’ (07.08.2014) Link: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v7/wn/newsworld.php?id=1058640

 

Bundesregierung (Federal German Government) – ‘Russia must withdraw troops’ (06.08.2014) Link: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/EN/Artikel/2014/08_en/2014-08-06-ukraine-eu-sanktionen_en.html

 

Kremlin – ‘Executive Order on special economic measures to protect Russia’s security’ (06.08.2014) Link: http://eng.kremlin.ru/acts/22780

 

Leta – ‘Emergency government meeting called in connection with Russia sanctions’ (07.08.2014) Link: http://www.leta.lv/eng/home/important/CFEA7FFD-D875-4B81-89E4-C4D173021D14/

 

Lithuania – ‘Kremlin sanctions will hit Russian people’ (07.08.2014) Link: http://www.president.lt/en/press_center/press_releases/kremlin_sanctions_will_hit_russian_people.html

 

Finnish – ‘Government to assess effects of retaliatory sanctions’ (07.08.2014) Link: http://valtioneuvosto.fi/ajankohtaista/tiedotteet/tiedote/en.jsp?toid=2213&c=0&moid=2217&oid=422109

 

Regjeringen – ‘Brende: – Beklager russisk importforbud’ (07.08.14) Link: http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/ud/pressesenter/pressemeldinger/2014/Brende—Beklager-russisk-importforbud.html?id=765590

 

EU – ‘Statement by Commission spokesman on the announcement of measures by the Russian Federation’ (07.08.2014) Link: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-14-249_en.htm?locale=en

 

UK – ‘HMG reaction to Russian sanctions’ (07.08.2014) Link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hmg-reaction-to-russian-sanctions

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: