Speech/statement | Date: 19/03/2022 | Ministry of Justice and Public Security
By Minister of Justice and Public Security Emilie Enger Mehl (Press conference March 18, 2022)
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Thank you, Minister of Defence.
The security situation in Europe has changed. This means that emergency preparedness in Norway must adapt correspondingly.
The Norwegian Government wishes to strengthen the security of the Norwegian population and of Norwegian interests, and we will act quickly.
We are now proposing a number of measures to further secure Norway. We are taking important steps to prevent incidents, and to improve our ability to send notifications and handle any incidents.
The Norwegian Government plans to allocate NOK 500 million to efforts to address the security situation by strengthening civil protection.
We propose allocating NOK 100 million to counter foreign intelligence and hybrid threats, and to maintain our presence in the High North. We propose allocating NOK 200 million to prevent, stop and deal with digital attacks in various sectors of society. We also propose to allocate NOK 200 million for basic civil protection through the Civil Defence, for a public warning service using the mobile network, and for the voluntary rescue service.
The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) continually assesses the threat picture in Norway, and is closely monitoring the situation. Russia is a known threat actor for Norway. The general threat picture has not changed as a result of the attack on Ukraine, except for one area. The PST has informed me that we are now seeing an increase in intelligence threats from Russia in Norway. The PST will give a briefing on this later today.
We must discover and combat intelligence, sabotage, and influence from foreign states in Norway. We will allocate NOK 100 million for this purpose,
strengthening the PST and the police by increasing personnel and upgrading equipment, which will enhance our operational capacity and presence, especially in our northernmost counties.
Svalbard is an important part of Norway. The Norwegian Government is now working on measures to strengthen preparedness and civil protection in the archipelago.
Digital attacks have become a central component of foreign states’ tool kits. The National Security Authority (NSM) is our digital threat security service. In the past three years, NSM has seen the number of data attacks with serious consequences for enterprises in Norway tripled.
A digital attack against a municipality or large company can have very considerable and costly consequences. I’m sure we all remember the data attacks against the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority and Østre Toten municipality. Large amounts of sensitive data could go astray. Hospital operations, municipalities, water supply or other critical functions could be interrupted for a long period of time.
This is why we must take action to make ourselves less vulnerable to digital attacks, and the Norwegian Government will allocate NOK 200 million for this purpose.
I would like to mention some of the measures below:
- NSM will receive NOK 25 million to prevent and counter more digital attacks.
- We will also grant NOK 40 million for more private, central and local government enterprises to install digital intruder alerts that notify NSM.
The Norwegian Government is concerned about data security in the municipalities, many of which are vulnerable. An attack on several municipalities concurrently would interrupt operations and create great uncertainty and instability.
This is why the Norwegian Government will require that the municipalities participate in security work to counter digital attacks, while the Government will cover the costs of this. We will allocate NOK 50 million for this purpose.
We will also increase the grant to the Norwegian Civil Security Clearance Authority by NOK 5 million to reduce the risk of having insiders who are in the service of foreign intelligence.
Norway is a safe place, but we can never protect ourselves fully against serious threats. During the past few weeks, many people in Norway have asked whether we are prepared to handle a serious incident.
Our basic preparedness is good, but the Norwegian Government plans to be proactive in terms of addressing people’s security in light of the new situation. This is why we will also be increasing local civil preparedness.
We will allocate NOK 200 million for the Civil Defence, a new and effective public warning service, and 2 000 new emergency network terminals.
The Civil Defence has accumulated a large backlog in recent years. We are now addressing this backlog and ensuring that a large allocation is made for both equipment and training personnel.
We have already seen the importance of the Civil Defence during this crisis. Its people are already out dealing with the refugee flow into Norway. They can be found throughout the country, and are an essential part of our emergency preparedness.
The Norwegian Government believes that it is very important to quickly provide reliable information to each inhabitant. This is why we will quickly establish a modern public warning service for the entire country, in addition to the existing sirens, which have a limited range.
This will allow us to send important messages to all people in Norway with a mobile phone in a matter of seconds. This can be a message about what to do in the case of an incident or it can be a message that there is no danger.
Volunteers are an important part of Norwegian emergency preparedness. They are also out in the field now. The Norwegian Government will grant funds to volunteers to operate 2 000 new emergency network terminals. Having more terminals will be important in allowing volunteers to help effectively during different crises within our country. They have local knowledge and short response times throughout Norway.
I would also like to say something about the Ukrainian refugee situation.
We have not seen such a rapid growth in a refugee crisis in recent times. The number of refugees arriving in Norway going ahead may be higher than anything we have ever seen here before. Last week’s forecast was 35 000 refugees this year. This is in addition to the people we are bringing to Norway ourselves. There is great uncertainty attached to the figure, and the Norwegian Government is also making plans to handle a much larger number.
We have provided temporary collective protection, which means that the refugees will automatically receive a work permit.
In recent weeks, the Norwegian Government has sharply increased its preparedness to handle the refugee crisis, and we now have capacity at the asylum reception centres and are in control of the situation there. I am deeply grateful to everyone who is coming forward and helping make sure that we can handle this situation. This is something that will be noticed throughout society, and we will be there.
I would now like to present the Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion.