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Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein support small and medium-sized cities – the "Local Development" Programme has started

255 Polish cities will receive money from the EEA and Norway Grants to support environmental protection, social and economic matters. The conference launching the Programme has been opened by Minister Jerzy Kwieciński. Representatives of Polish local governments, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Association of Regional and Local Authorities, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Association of Polish Cities were present.

"The ‘Local Development’ Programme is addressed to small and medium-sized cities selected by the Polish Academy of Sciences as centres with the most difficult socio-economic situation in the country. It is a response to the most important challenges faced by these cities such as the implementation of accessibility standards or supporting entrepreneurship and the local economy” – said Minister Jerzy Kwieciński.

There are plans to conduct a call and implement approx. 15 comprehensive, integrated horizontal development projects worth EUR 3-10 million each. Besides the improvement in the quality of life of city dwellers, the goal of projects implementation is to develop such tools and solutions that will be disseminated among all local governments. Thus the “Local Development” Programme and the projects implemented under it will constitute a development model for small and medium-sized cities.

"The Programme and the development projects carried out will constitute a new quality of support for Polish local governments. Thanks to joint actions all local governments will be able to use the acquired knowledge and experience which will result in a better standard of living of the inhabitants and conditions for further development of cities" – argued the minister.

Money for the development of Polish cities comes from the EEA and Norway Grants, i.e. a special pool of funds which Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have awarded to several Central, South European and the Baltic countries. In return, these three countries have access to the internal market of the European Union although they are not members of it. The main goal of the EEA and Norway Grants is to reduce economic and social differences within the EEA and to strengthen bilateral relations between the Donors and the Beneficiary State.

In Poland the entity responsible for coordinating the implementation of the EEA and Norway Grants is the Ministry of Investment and Economic Development. In the process it cooperates with the Financial Mechanism Office in Brussels. Individual programmes of the 3rd edition of the Grants will be implemented by Polish public institutions. The exceptions are, as in previous editions, the “Civil Society” and the ”Social Dialogue – Decent Work” areas, which will be managed by the Donors via Financial Mechanism Office in Brussels and Innovation Norway respectively.

The Programme launched today amounts to EUR 117.6 million of which 15%, i.e. EUR 17.6 million, represents the national contribution.