NGO Programmes

A strong and vibrant civil society is important for democratic development. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a key role in mobilising citizens, promoting democratic values and tackling key concerns in society.

Support to civil society is therefore one of the key priorities of the EEA and Norway Grants, with NGO Programmes established in all 16 beneficiary countries. 
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a key role in promoting active citizenship, participatory democracy and building cohesive societies, targeting the needs of and empowering specific groups, including those most at risk of inequalities, exclusion and discrimination. NGOs are also instrumental in engaging in advocacy and policy formulation, as well as raising awareness of key issues and challenges in today's societies.
Strengthening civil society in Central and Southern Europe is an important priority for the EEA Grants and Norway Grants. The overall objective of the NGO Programmes is to strengthen civil society development and to enhance the contribution to social justice, democracy and sustainable development.
Beneficiary countries 
Project support is available to applicants in 15 European countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
Support to NGOs 
In the period to 2016, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway make available €1.79 billion to development and cooperation programmes benefiting NGOs, research and academic institutions, and the public and private sectors in the beneficiary states. Approximately €140 million will be earmarked to new funds for non-governmental organisations, and NGOs will also be eligible for funding under many of the other programme areas available. 
In the previous period, covering 2004-2009, NGOs received €85 million in funding. More than 1900 projects by civil society organisations in the beneficiary states were supported.
Read more about the support to civil society in the fact sheet
CVE-20120613-Hungary-097 - Kopi 
Photo: Christophe Vander Eecken
Expected outcomes
  • Active citizenship fostered
  • Increased involvement of NGOs in policy and decision-making processes with local, regional and national goverments
  • Cross-sectoral partnerships developed, particularly with government organisations at local, regional and/or national level
  • Democratic values, including human rights, promoted
  • Advocacy and watchdog role developed
  • Developed networks and coalitions of NGOs working in partnership
  • Strengthened capacity of NGOs and enabling environment for the sector promoted
  • Increased contribution to sustainable development achieved
  • Provision of welfare and basic services to defined target groups increased
  • Empowerment of vulnerable groups
Areas of support
  • Democracy
  • Human rights, including minority rights (ethnic, religious, linguistic and sexual orientation)
  • Good governance and transparency
  • Participatory democracy
  • Combat racism and xenophobia
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Social inequalities, poverty and exclusion, including in rural areas
  • Gender equality
  • Gender-based violence
Suggested activities
  • Fostering active citizenship and participatory democracy, including at grassroots and/or local level
  • Advocacy, watchdog and monitoring activities
  • Awareness-raising activities
  • Multicultural dialogue activities
  • Participation in policy and decision-making processes
  • Capacity-building and organisational support to NGOs
  • Strengthening governance in membership-based NGOs
  • Network and coalition-building
  • Mutual learning and dissemination
  • Education and training activities
  • Cultural initiatives to promote key areas as mentioned above


Additional eligible areas and activities
The following areas and activities are also eligible for support:
  • Protection of the environment and climate change
    • Awareness-raising and civic participation
    • Develop umbrella organisations and/or new networks on biodiversity/climate change
    • NGO involvement in national action plans related to biodiversity and/or climate change
    • Mobilising local involvement to protect biodiversity
    • Environmental educational activities and training for teachers
  • Provision of welfare and basic services
    • Provision of key services to vulnerable groups: children and youth at risk, people affected by HIV/AIDS, children with disabilities and/or mental disorders and their families, victims of trafficking and gender-based violence and/or domestic violence, where such services are not otherwise or not adequately provided by governmental institutions.