This year marks the 25th anniversary of the entry into force of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement), signed on 2 May 1992, between the Member States of the European Union (EU) and countries of the European Economic Area Free Trade (EFTA). In Portugal, the event is celebrated on 8 and 9 October 2019, in Porto and Lisbon.
The Active Citizens Fund in Portugal participated in the commemorative session that took place at the Palácio da Bolsa, in Porto, where the Agreement was signed, as well as in the 2nd Annual Meeting with the funding countries to analyze the implementation of the programs financed by the EEA Grants in Portugal.
Indeed, EEA Grants are a multi-annual Financial Mechanism established through the EEA Agreement in which Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway provide financial support to some EU Member States, including Portugal. EEA Grants have the overall objective of reducing economic and social disparities in the EEA.
Since 1994, the following financial mechanisms have taken place in Portugal: EEA Grants 1994-1998; EEA Grants 1999-2003; EEA Grants 2004-2009; EEA Grants 2009-2014. The 2014-2021 Financial Mechanism is currently underway.
In 2012, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was selected by tender for the first time to manage in Portugal the EEA Grants funds for Civil Society. The Cidadania Ativa (Active Citizenship) Program was thus created, which in four years supported 113 projects that directly benefited the lives of over 80,000 people in Portugal.
Some of the projects supported by this Program (2013-2016) are now featured in the photographic exhibition “25 years & 25 projects”, which aims to highlight the contribution of EEA Grants in Portugal. The exhibition is on display until November 9, in Lisbon, at Alameda metro station, an emblematic place since its construction was one of the first projects funded by the EEA Grants in Portugal.
In 2017, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in consortium with the Fundação Bissaya Barreto, was again selected by tender to manage in Portugal the Active Citizens Fund, a component of the EEA Grants specifically intended to support Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). A new program was thus created, with an allocation of 11 million euros, to be implemented over the period 2018-2024, which is intended to support Civil Society in Portugal.