KS’ main board concluded in April 2019 that Norwegian local governments have to be ensured access to relevant programmes in the EU programme period 2021-2027. The board advices the Norwegian state government to continue the participation in Horizon Europe, Erasmus+, Interreg, and Creative Europe. Secondly, the board advices that Norway participates in the new city programme European Urban initiative. Finally, the board advices that Norway should buy into the programmes Digital Europe (DEP), Rights and values, and LIFE.
Below are some of the main arguments for the relevance of key EU programmes for Norwegian municipalities and regions:
Interreg is an important program for the regional and municipal sector and has been a well-functioning programme for a long time. It has contributed to limit decommissioning, govern Nordic and European collaborations, and promote collaboration between various stakeholders. Interreg functions as a learning arena for European collaborations, and may be used as a stepping-stone for participation in programmes such as Horizon2020. The programme also has the potential to lessen the gap between development and scaling/commercialising new efforts. Through participation in Interreg, Norwegian county councils can take on a greater coordinating role and gather stakeholders in the international work in the region.
European Urban Initiative
Several Norwegian cities are currently participating in some of the EU's urban policy initiatives. The cities signal that the European Urban Initiative will be a key tool for service development and that participation is important in order to solve central and long-term challenges facing cities. Participation in the European Urban Initiative is important in the context of Interreg and the other sector programs. Synergies with Horizon Europe can enable testing and implementation of solutions from research and innovation projects.
Participation in Horizon Europe provides local governments with access to the latest within research, technology and innovations. Horizon Europe gives access to some of the best stakeholders in Europe and the world. Several of KS’ member organisations have acquired important capacity in this programme and participation in the next programme period gives great potential for continued local and regional development.
Erasmus+ is a low threshold programme of great relevance for Norwegian local governments. The programme is utilised at all levels within education, sports and youth. Erasmus+ produces synergies with other EU-programmes and it facilitates collaborations with other stakeholders. Several Norwegian county councils facilitate and coordinate project participation for the municipalities.
This programme is a cornerstone of European culture collaboration and provides synergies that surpasses project periods. The synergies between Creative Europe and other EU programmes are important to highlight, but could be communicated better. The Norwegian culture sector covered by Creative Europe can also make use of financing schemes such as Erasmus+, EEA funds, Interreg and Nordic schemes. What makes Creative Europe so attractive to the sector is that it provides great added value in terms of increased visibility and development opportunities.
KS’s members highlight LIFE as an important EU programme. The programme facilitates implementation of national, regional and local policies for Norway to achieve its climate goals, within social- and land-use planning, regional planning, transport, water management, local pollution and waste management. LIFE promotes capacity building and coordination of climate work. An important part of LIFE is the promotion of cross-sectoral collaborations and collective solutions.
Digital Europe (DEP) is considered strategically important for Norway as an EEA member, where a well-functioning internal digital market provides opportunities for citizens and businesses, and where a strategic approach to the digital shift in collaboration with EU / EEA countries provides important input of resources and expertise. Thematically, DEP's five pillars are relevant for municipalities and county councils - as public authorities with their own needs, but also as facilitators for business; for regional growth and development, and as host for so-called "Digital Innovation Hubs".
Rights and values
The programme areas of social inclusion, democracy and gender equality are relevant for Norwegian municipalities and county municipalities. Increased emphasis on the local and regional level in the programme will strengthen the relevance. Norwegian municipalities and county councils also have the opportunity to participate in democracy-building measures through EEA funds and through funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, the EEA funds are earmarked for measures for development in the recipient countries and not in Norway.