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. Through this programme, the Netherlands aims to help countries bordering the European Union to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. This enhances stability in those countries.

Strengthening democracy and the rule of law

Countries that want to join the EU 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 fulfilling these conditions.

These countries often need take steps to:

  • tackle corruption and organised crime;
  • reform the judiciary and civil service;
  • improve the position of minorities, such as LGBTQI+ and Roma people;
  • ensure fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of the press;
  • strengthen the party system.

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

What 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. Junior diplomats from Matra countries may also take short courses. For the Netherlands the courses are a way to build a network of useful contacts.

Support for public authorities

On request, the Netherlands provides support to public authorities in Matra countries to strengthen the rule of law, good governance and democracy. For example, Dutch expertise can be used to help the judiciary work more efficiently, improve circumstances for the media, and make government more service oriented.

Supporting local plans

Dutch embassies help civil society organisations in Matra countries carry out plans to strengthen democracy and the rule of law. This is a key aspect of the Copenhagen Criteria. Local organisations can invite Dutch civil society organisations to share their knowledge and experience. This can help them carry out their plans.

Political party foundations

The Dutch political parties’ foundations for international projects receive grants to undertake joint activities with their sister parties or partner organisations. This helps the beneficiaries to train senior party members and broaden their networks. This in turn strengthens democratic processes in Matra countries.

Matra Grant Policy Framework 2020-2024

In late 2019 and early 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs selected new projects under the Matra ‘government to government’ programme 2020-2024. No more grant funding is available under this programme. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not accepting any new applications.