Local development, poverty reduction, social inclusion, and youth employment have all been given priority under the new €8 million programme funded by the European Economic Area and the Norway Grants Financial Mechanism for projects to be completed by 2021, announced Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia during a conference which brought to an end the successful completion of the EEA and the Norway Grants Financial Mechanism 2009-2014, and paved the way for a new one seeing €4.4 million provided under the EEA Financial Mechanism and €3.6 million under the Norway Financial Mechanism.
Dr Farrugia provided the initial details about the new programme and remarked that children and youth at risk of poverty are amongst the main target groups in social and healthcare projects. The projects will support social inclusion, equal access to education, employment, and healthcare. The Parliamentary Secretary added that two more projects will focus on vulnerable groups in urban towns including harbour areas, in order to support early interventions investing in boosting systematic change through pilot projects, in the area of social innovation through cultural activities.
Dr Farrugia described the EEA and Norway Grants Financial Mechanisms 2009-2014 as success stories under which Malta received around €5 million. These programmes were both concluded on time by the end of April 2017 and this time round Norway enhanced the allocated budget by an additional €3 million, showing signs of trust in the capabilities of the Maltese authorities.
The Parliamentary Secretary added that the Active Citizens Fund for the period 2014 – 2021, amounts to €700,000. The call for the fund operator was launched in March and closed on the 1st of June. The Fund Operator will be responsible for the development and implementation of the Active Citizens Fund in Malta. The Active Citizens Fund 2014-2021 seeks to develop long-term sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector, and aims at strengthening its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship, and human rights.
Dr Aaron Farrugia noted that the local Funds and Programme Division in collaboration with the Donor States is currently in the process of concluding the concept note and programme agreement defining the scope and planned results for each project. “There is still work to be done before the commencement of these projects, but we look forward to further collaboration so that all these steps will overcome in the shortest time possible”, concluded Parliamentary Secretary Farrugia.