King Harald V of Norway

The Speech from the Throne by His Majesty the King on the occasion of the opening of the 155th session of the Storting

The Storting, 2 October 2010

Translation from the Norwegian

Mr President, Representatives of the People,

I greet the Storting as it takes up its solemn responsibilities with the wish that the fulfilment of these duties will be of benefit to our country.

The aim of the Government’s policy is to

  • ensure that Norway has the lowest rate of unemployment in Europe, and increase economic activity in all parts of the country,
  • protect, renew and improve one of the world’s best welfare societies,
  • ensure that Norway is at the forefront in the fight against climate change.

The Government’s aim is to give all people in all parts of the country the opportunity to develop their abilities and live rewarding, meaningful lives.

Our concerted labour efforts are the most important foundation for our welfare. The Government will therefore pursue a sound economic policy that promotes equity and economic activity, strengthens our sense of community, and gives the individual citizen a sense of security. The Government’s budget policy is designed to ensure stable economic development in both the short and the long term, and is based on the fiscal rule for the use of petroleum revenues.

Employment for all is one of the Government’s main objectives. The Government intends to make it easier for people who have reduced work capacity or weak ties to the labour market to find stable, gainful employment. The Government will follow up the agreement on a more inclusive workplace.

The pension reform will be implemented from 1 January 2011. It will provide flexible options for retirement from the age of 62 and allow for individually adapted solutions. In addition to the changes in the national insurance pension scheme that have already been adopted, the Government will propose changes to the disability pension scheme.

Adequate care services will be provided for elderly people who need them. The Government will facilitate the further development of such services and follow up the agreement reached between the parties in the coalition government, the Christian Democratic Party and the Liberal Party on Care Plan 2015.

In 2011, the Government will continue the reform designed to improve coordination in the health sector by submitting bills to the Storting on health and care services, public health and a new national plan for care services for the period 2011–2015. The Government will continue its efforts to provide sufficient capacity and build necessary expertise as regards treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare for substance abusers.

The Government will follow up the recommendations of the committee on income distribution and present a white paper on distribution policies.

The Government intends to present a white paper on working conditions, working environment and safety during spring 2011.

The Government will present a white paper on equal pay, which will explore measures that can help to reduce the pay gap between women and men.

A well educated, highly qualified population is our most important asset. The Government will therefore continue to give high priority to education and research in order to ensure that the individual citizen has opportunities for personal development and employment, secure our welfare society, and facilitate the further development of a competitive business sector.

The Government gives high priority to ensuring that more pupils complete upper secondary education by focusing on knowledge and early intervention throughout their education. The Government will focus particularly on lower secondary education by improving the learning environment and making the teaching more varied and relevant to the pupils. The Government will present a white paper on lower secondary education.

The Government will increase the number of places in higher education towards 2020 to cater for larger age cohorts and to meet the business sector’s need for expertise. In the years ahead, it is essential to provide high-quality education and make efficient use of resources in the higher education sector.

The Government will, in consultation with the municipal sector, ensure sound, sustainable municipal finances. The available resources will be used to expand and improve services.

The Government will present a white paper on the relationship between the municipal and state sectors and the principles of central government control.

The Government intends to strengthen municipal child welfare services though capacity-, knowledge- and competence-building.

The Government’s aim is that all citizens should have real freedom to choose where they wish to live. The Government will therefore continue to give priority to regional policy. It will also step up its efforts to boost growth in municipalities and local communities.

The Government will work to make digital platforms the primary channel for providing more user-friendly and efficient public services.

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. This requires that we take action, both in Norway and abroad.

Norway will take a proactive role in efforts to ensure that the Climate Change Conference in Mexico in November this year brings us closer to an ambitious global climate agreement and that there is the broadest possible participation.

The Government aims to present a white paper on climate policy in autumn 2011, based in part on the proposals made in Klimakur 2020, a report on how Norway’s greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced towards 2020.

The Government will review the population targets for wolves and bears and seek broad agreement on these targets in the Storting.

The Government’s aim is that Norway should be an environmentally friendly energy nation and a world leader in this field, and the production of renewable energy will be significantly increased.

The Government will present a white paper on the updating of the management plan for the Barents Sea–Lofoten area.

The Government’s aim for the petroleum sector is to ensure long-term management and the greatest possible production within an environmentally sound framework. The Government will facilitate the exploration of new areas.

The Government will continue its efforts to improve the oil spill emergency response system along the coast and in the High North. With a view to achieving the goal that Norway should be one of the world’s leading seafood producers, the Government will ensure that our sea areas, marine resources and aquaculture industry are managed in a sustainable manner.

Norway is to be at the forefront of carbon capture and storage. Substantial resources are therefore being devoted to research and development and to the projects at Mongstad.

Norway’s oil and gas assets generate substantial revenues. The Government will continue its work to ensure their economically and ethically sound management so that future generations are also able to benefit from our petroleum wealth.

Increased value creation is the key aim of the Government’s business policy.

The Government will give high priority to developing environmental technology. It will present a white paper on state ownership and simplify working conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Agriculture is of key importance to maintaining settlement patterns, employment and economic activity in all parts of the country. The Government will further develop the income and social welfare policy for the agricultural sector. The Government will present a white paper on agricultural and food policy.

Good infrastructure and a functional transport system in all parts of the country are essential in order to increase long-term production, improve traffic safety and reduce adverse environmental impacts. The Government will follow up on the ambitious goals set out in the National Transport Plan for the period 2010–2019 in the annual government budgets.

In 2011, the Government will continue intake to the Norwegian Police University College at the current record-high level.

The Government will continue its efforts to combat violence against and abuse of women and children.

The Government will look thoroughly into the many important questions related to the jury system and, if appropriate, propose changes. It is important to devise a broad-based arrangement to ensure the participation of laypeople in Norwegian courts.

The Government will pursue a consistent, fair asylum and refugee policy that ensures due process. The Government will reduce the number of applications for asylum in Norway from people who are not in need of protection, and speedily return persons who do not fulfil the grounds for residence. Norway’s practice should for the most part be in line with that of like-minded countries.

With a view to promoting the integration of immigrants into Norwegian society, the Government will present a bill on increasing the number of hours of Norwegian language instruction that immigrants have the right and obligation to participate in. At the same time, the Government will propose that compulsory tests in Norwegian and social studies be introduced.

The Government will facilitate the development of the Church of Norway as a vibrant, open church. The agreement on the relationship between church and state is to be followed up.

The Government is implementing the arts promotion programme Kulturløftet, which is the largest of its kind ever for promoting the arts, cultural activities and voluntary work.

The Government will implement the action plan for Sami languages with a view to strengthening the position of these languages.

Norway will pursue an active and targeted foreign and defence policy that safeguards Norwegian interests. At the same time, the Government will support peace efforts and the global fight against poverty through its development policy.

The High North is the Government’s most important strategic foreign policy priority. In 2011, the Government will present a white paper on Norway’s High North policy.

In addition to supporting the UN and NATO, the Government will pursue a proactive European policy that safeguards Norway’s interests vis-à-vis the EU. By means of the EEA grants, Norway will contribute significantly to reducing social and economic disparities in Europe.

The Government intends to modernise the Norwegian Defence in accordance with the long-term plan for the period 2009–2012. The Government will particularly seek to further develop Norway’s operational capacity and presence in the High North.

The Government will continue Norway’s contribution to the ISAF operation in Afghanistan in 2011, with a greater focus on enabling the Afghan security forces to assume responsibility for the country’s security. Norway will also maintain its civilian contribution to the reconstruction of Afghan society at a high level.

I pray that God will bless the deliberations of this Storting, and I hereby declare the 155th session of the Storting to be open.

Given at the Royal Palace in Oslo on 1 October 2010.