NFRP/Matra: Grants for strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Europe

The Dutch Fund for Regional Partnerships (NFRP)/Matra supports current and potential EU candidate countries and the countries of the Eastern Partnership. Its aim is to help countries on the fringes of the European Union to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, thus enhancing stability.

Strengthening democracy and the rule of law

Countries intending to apply for EU membership have to meet strict requirements such as the Copenhagen Criteria. A number of Eastern Partnership countries have signed Association Agreements with the EU, which also contain strict conditions. Through NFRP/Matra the Netherlands helps these countries take steps towards eventually fulfilling these conditions.

These countries often need to strengthen the rule of law in a number of areas, such as:

  • tackling corruption and organised crime;
  • reforming the judiciary and civil service;
  • improving the position of minorities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) and Roma people;
  • ensuring fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of the press;
  • strengthening the democratic party system.

Through its Matra programme the Netherlands supports projects by government authorities, local organisations and political parties. The Matra partnership supplements the European Commission’s efforts in these countries.

Which countries qualify for Matra funding?

The following countries qualify for Matra funding.

Current and potential candidate countries:

  • Albania;
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Kosovo;
  • Montenegro;
  • North Macedonia;
  • Serbia;
  • Turkey.

Eastern Partnership countries:

  • Armenia;
  • Azerbaijan;
  • Belarus;
  • Georgia;
  • Moldova;
  • Ukraine.

Training courses in the Netherlands

Civil servants from Matra countries can attend short training courses in the Netherlands on topics related to the development of democracy and the rule of law. Young diplomats from Matra countries may also take short courses. The Netherlands benefits from these courses, too, since the participants provide useful contacts.

Supporting local plans

Dutch embassies support plans by civil society organisations to strengthen the rule of law in Matra countries, a key aspect of the Copenhagen Criteria. Local organisations can invite Dutch civil society organisations to help them implement their plans.

Political party foundations

The Dutch political parties’ foundations for projects abroad receive grants for joint activities (twinning projects) with their sister parties or partner organisations. The money is spent on strengthening democratic processes in Matra countries. This helps the recipients to train leaders and broaden their networks.