‘I am impressed by what has been achieved. There are major challenges in the European labour market. A well-functioning labour market depends to a considerable extent on close cooperation between the authorities, employees and employers,’ commented Ingvild Næss Stub, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Through the Norway Grants, Norway has allocated just over EUR 8 million to a fund to promote dialogue between the social partners and create an inclusive labour market. Funding has since been awarded to 52 projects in a total of 13 beneficiary countries.
As a result, new meeting places have been established for employers, employees and authorities. In turn, this has led to new and better collective agreements for employees in the forestry industry in Lithuania and the construction industry in Latvia, for example. In Romania, health and safety training throughout the education sector has been improved.
Some 13 000 people have been directly involved in the projects, which have had an impact on two million people. A total of 28 projects have been implemented in cooperation with Norwegian partners.
‘We have a strong tradition of cooperation between the social partners in Norway. A commitment to dialogue has helped to safeguard jobs and labour standards. This experience is something Norwegian partners have brought into the projects,’ said Ms Stub.
Both employee and employer organisations from Norway have taken part in projects, including the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry (NHO), the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), Unio (Confederation of Unions for Professionals), and YS (Confederation of Vocational Unions).
Innovation Norway has administered the programme, which is the first to be completed in the current Norway Grants period. The Government intends to continue the fund in the next period.