The war in Ukraine has dramatically changed the security policy landscape in Europe. The Government is proposing a number of immediate measures in response to the new situation.
‘We are strengthening Norwegian national defence capabilities and security. At the same time, we will better equip our municipalities to receive a large number of Ukrainian refugees. The measures presented today are a powerful signal to Norway’s municipalities that the government administration is standing beside them. This is solidarity in practice. We will provide our local communities with what they need to deal with this challenge. There will be a lot of extra demands placed on day care centres, schools, the health care sector, the voluntary sector, and in many other areas as well,’ said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
The invasion of Ukraine has made it clear that Russia is willing to use military force to achieve its aims.
‘This represents a turning point for Norwegian and European security. It is absolutely essential for us to strengthen our defence capabilities in order to address a new security policy situation,’ said Mr Støre.
Robust defence and effective emergency preparedness
While there are no military threats directly targeted towards Norway, the security policy situation has changed.
‘The Government’s most important task now is to ensure our safety and security. The people of Norway need to know that we have a robust defence and effective emergency preparedness. We are proposing extra allocations to address the new situation and the need to strengthen civil protection and military preparedness. We are inviting the other political parties to work with us to achieve a broad agreement on safeguarding Norway,’ said Minister of Finance Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.
The Government proposes to increase expenditure for defence and civil preparedness by NOK 3.5 billion in 2022. This will be used for measures that can be implemented quickly and will have an immediate effect. The defence measures are based on expert input from the Chief of Defence.
Measures relating to Ukrainian refugees
The war has forced more than 4 million Ukrainians to flee their country so far. The countries of Europe, including Norway, are all providing assistance in this crisis. The Government is proposing financial measures totalling NOK 10.7 billion in connection with receiving and integrating Ukrainian refugees.
In the first instance, this will enable Norway to take in 30 000 refugees from Ukraine, in addition to 5 000 refugees from other areas. This includes redistribution of 2 500 Ukrainian refugees from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries and medical evacuation of up to 550 Ukrainian patients and their close family members.
‘We must ensure that Ukrainian refugees are safe and well cared for during their time in Norway. We are hoping to help them regain and maintain a sense of normality. Children will be attending day care or school programmes, and we will work to enable adults to find jobs or engage in other activities as quickly as possible,’ Prime Minister Støre said.
The Government is considering how to amend the regulatory framework in order to make it possible for municipalities to absorb a large number of refugees in a short time and still be able to provide adequate services.
‘The refugee situation that is evolving will pose a wide range of challenges to Norwegian municipal structures. Many municipalities were just starting to return to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are now suddenly being confronted with a new set of difficult problems. The Government is proposing a number of measures designed to equip municipalities and local communities to deal with the tasks ahead,’ Minister of Finance Vedum said.
The overview over the number of refugees that Norwegian municipalities can take in was updated today. So far, the municipalities have reported that they can take in over 23 000 refugees. The numbers for 81 municipalities have not yet been provided, but several of these have said they will be responding very soon.
‘The municipal authorities are working very hard to find ways to take in an unprecedented number of refugees. There is enormous willingness to help, and I am deeply impressed by the efforts being carried out in communities throughout Norway,’ said Prime Minister Støre.
Overview of measures proposed by the Government
Strengthening civil protection and military preparedness:
- NOK 3 billion for rapid strengthening of the Norwegian Armed Forces and military preparedness, including deterrence and defence capabilities together with Allies and partners.
- Increase the presence of the Armed Forces in the north. More expeditions with naval and Coast Guard vessels.
- Enhance preparedness, response capabilities and resilience in times of crisis and war.
- More frequent training and exercises in the north and involving more of the Home Guard.
- Boost Norwegian capacity to receive Allied reinforcements.
- Enhance our situational awareness and resilience to cyber threats.
- NOK 512 million to strengthen efforts to counter foreign intelligence activities, sabotage and influence from foreign countries, and measures to improve civil protection.
- Strengthen our presence and intelligence activities, particularly in the north. The proposals include funding for more personnel and equipment for the police and the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST).
- Enhanced cyber security.
- Improved civil protection in Norway, including more equipment and personnel for the Norwegian Civil Defence. Including a proposal to establish a modern early warning system to alert the public throughout the entire country via mobile phones.
Integration and inclusion of refugees:
- NOK 7.1 billion in increased allocations to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), the police and the Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi) for dealing with increased numbers of asylum seekers.
- NOK 1.7 billion in increased allocations for redistribution of 2 500 refugees from Ukraine’s neighbouring areas, as well as medical evacuation of up to 550 patients and their family members.
- NOK 718 million in increased allocations for operating costs under UDI, the police, PST, IMDi and the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) to increase capacity in the reception system to accommodate the large influx of refugees.
- NOK 1 billion in increased grants for rental accommodation and rehabilitation of housing, to assist the municipalities in providing housing for refugees.
- NOK 170 million in increased discretionary grants for host municipalities that incur substantial costs not covered by host municipality grants in connection with the reception of refugees.
- NOK 150 million for child welfare services to deal with increased numbers of refugees.
- NOK 86.5 million in grants for education for children and young people who will be staying in Norway.
- NOK 50 million for teaching materials and remote teaching in connection with pre-school and primary and lower secondary education for children, young people and adults.
- NOK 50 million for NGOs’ efforts to integrate refugees from Ukraine.
- NOK 50 million in increased allocations for the government-funded Norwegian language training programme.
- NOK 15 million for language training in Norwegian and English under the auspices of NGOs.
- NOK 64 million for 1 000 temporary student places.
- NOK 15 million for measures to enhance psychosocial support in order to provide refugees with they help they need.
Measures for businesses particularly affected by the war in Ukraine:
- Establishment of a loan guarantee scheme for businesses with liquidity problems, with a guarantee framework ceiling of NOK 400 million and provisions against losses of NOK 120 million.
- Increasing the framework for low-risk loans through Innovation Norway by NOK 500 million, targeting businesses in eastern Finnmark.
- NOK 55 million for a support scheme for businesses that have experienced a significant decrease in revenues as a result of the war in Ukraine.
- NOK 50 million for regional policy measures to promote development and restructuring of the private sector in eastern Finnmark.
The Government’s proposed measures amount to a total of NOK 14.4 billion. The proposals are subject to approval by the Storting.