Addressing corruption risks in the EEA and Norway Grants

Filed under - Governance

article image

What’s at stake?

When grant funding is mismanaged, not only do the intended recipients lose out, but the effectiveness of grant schemes worth billions as well as donor credibility is also at stake.  

The European Economic Area and Norway Grant Schemes 2009-2014 provide €1.8 billion worth of funding to 16 EU countries and 150 programmes. However, when corruption risks are left unaddressed, the success of these grants is threatened.

What we’re doing about it

The European Economic Area and Norway Grant Schemes provide grants to 16 EU countries, with the aim to strengthen bilateral co-operation and reduce economic and social disparities. Addressing corruption risks in the grant schemes remains a priority for the donor countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway), and they have adopted zero-tolerance to corruption, graft and mismanagement as one of their guiding principles. To this end, Transparency International has partnered up with the donors to identify potential corruption risks in the grant schemes – ensuring the money goes where it’s intended to go.

Since July 2011, Transparency International has provided expert advice to the European Economic Area and Norway Grants to help address corruption risks affecting the grant schemes. This involves a thorough assessment of the overall level of integrity of the beneficiary states and an analysis of the specific corruption risks in the different countries. Once identified, Transparency International offers guidance and support on potential mitigation measures for the donors and the beneficiary states to consider in their anti-corruption planning.

The 16 EU beneficiary states include Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Who’s involved

The Partnership Agreement involves Transparency International and the Financial Mechanism Office, based in Brussels, which represents the European Economic Area and Norway Grants in the day-to-day management of the grant mechanism.

In the framework of this agreement, Transparency International supports the Financial Mechanism Office in advising National Focal Points – the entities in charge of the overall management of the funds in each beneficiary state – on potential corruption risks in the grant scheme in their respective country, and on which measures could be useful to address these risks and strengthen the institutions involved in the grant scheme at national level.

Our approach

Assessment of level of integrity in beneficiary states

Based on the National Integrity System methodology, developed by Transparency International, the performance of, as well as corruption risks in, national actors and institutions have been assessed in 13 of the 16 beneficiary states (all except for Croatia, Cyprus and Malta). The assessments looked at public and private sector bodies, law enforcement agencies, civil society, media, judiciary and other key “pillars” of governance. These studies and a European report compiling the results of these and 12 additional European countries can be found here.

Corruption risk assessment

We developed a dedicated methodology for corruption risk assessment, which was applied to 14 beneficiary states (all except for Croatia and Hungary). Drawing on desk review and stakeholder input, the methodology assessed corruption risks at country-, programme- and project-level, and it also identified priority corruption risk areas. The report summarising the main findings of the corruption risk assessment was published in June 2015.

Provision of tools and solutions to address corruption risks

Building on the findings during the risk assessment, tailor-made tools and solutions will support the donors and beneficiaries to address the risks identified.

Professional input for annual seminars

We have been providing professional input to annual seminars on transparency and good governance organised by the European Economic Area and Norway Grants. These seminars aim at shaping awareness of beneficiary states’ representatives concerning corruption risks affecting the grant mechanism.

Timeline and results

  • July 2011: Signature of the Partnership Agreement with the European Economic Area and Norway Grants.
  • 6 September 2011: Presentation of the Partnership Agreement at the seminar “Addressing Corruption Risks in Grant Management” organised by the European Economic Area and Norway Grants in Prague.
  • December 2011 - May 2012: Publication of National Integrity System reports assessing the level of integrity in 13 beneficiary states.
  • 10-12 September 2012: Presentation of the findings on level of integrity in Norway, Latvia and Greece, and presentation of the corruption risk assessment tool at the “Risk Management and Good Governance” seminar organised by the European Economic Area and Norway Grants in Sofia.
  • 20 May 2013: Participation in the conference “Growing accountable - Conference on accountability and transparency in grant-giving relations” organised by the Open Estonia Foundation in Tallinn.
  • July 2013: Start of the implementation of the corruption risk assessment.
  • 24-25 September 2013: Presentation of the preliminary findings of the corruption risk assessment and discussion on some tools and solutions to address corruption risks at the “Managing risks for results. Fighting corruption” seminar organised by the European Economic Area and Norway Grants in Oslo.
  • August 2014: Corruption risk assessment conducted in 14 beneficiary states.
  • 24-25 September 2014: Participation in the “Risk Management and Good Governance for Results” seminar organised by the European Economic Area and Norway Grants in Tallinn. Presentation of the key findings of the corruption risk assessment and of the first measures taken by the Beneficiary Countries to mitigate identified corruption risks. 
  • 15 June 2015: Publication of Addressing corruption risk in the EEA and Norway Grants, a report summarising the key findings of the corruption risk assessment and presenting first measures taken by the beneficiary countries to mitigate identified corruption risks.


Contact us

Anja Osterhaus, Regional Programme Manager

Supplementary downloads

Country / Territory - International   |   Iceland   |   Liechtenstein   |   Norway   
Language(s) - English   
Topic - Accountability   |   Governance   |   Politics and government   |   Surveys   |   Tools   

Related news


In whose interest? Political integrity and corruption in Africa

What accounts for the wide disparity in peoples’ perceptions of the integrity of elected representatives in different countries? In this piece, we ...


Montenegro – Widely condemnded law does not deserve a second chance

Together with its Montenegrin chapter, MANS, Transparency International reiterates its opposition to unconstitutional amendments to the Law on ...


President of the European Commission urged not meet ‘behind closed doors’ with Prime Minister of Czech Republic

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is reportedly planning to discuss his conflict of interest case with the President of the European Commission, ...


Why corruption matters in the EU elections

What voters should know as they head to the polls.

Related publications

Publication cover image

Climate Adaptation Finance Governance Standards - A New Approach Piloted in the Maldives and Bangladesh

Climate finance – money intended to help at-risk countries prevent climate change and adapt to its effects – can be vulnerable to corruption. ...

Report published – Sep 2018

Publication cover image

Independent REDD+ Governance Monitoring: A Guidance Document for Civil Society Organisations

Good governance is vital for achieving effective, efficient and fair REDD+ outcomes, and civil society organisations (CSOs) are in a strong position ...

Report published – Jul 2018

Related blog posts


State Capture in South Africa

A recently-released report on State Capture indicates that one family could seemingly succeed in skewing the spending priorities ... [read more]

Posted on 14 Feb 2017 by Jan Hofmeyr

Young change makers using tech to solve land corruption

  Fifteen bright young minds from Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe came together late last year ... [read more]

Posted on 06 Feb 2017 by Annette Jaitner

What’s next for Ukraine?

Ukraine said it planned to confiscate $290 million of assets believed to be stolen through corruption in 2016. So far ... [read more]

Posted on 16 Dec 2016 by Chris Sanders

Cleaning up sport: conflicts of interest at the top

The tension between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has never been greater ... [read more]

Posted on 09 Dec 2016 by Catherine Ordway

OGP: France must do more to tackle corruption

Opening up government data to fight corruption has been a stated aim for many Open Government Partnership members. When ... [read more]

Posted on 09 Dec 2016 by Robin Hodess