Statement by the Prime Minister at the press conference: Plan to reach 2 %
Speech/statement | Date: 03/05/2023 | Office of the Prime Minister
Good afternoon everyone, welcome to today’s press conference. We have invited you here to tell you about our plans to strengthen the Norwegian Armed Forces and the defence alliance that we are a part of.
We are announcing today that we will increase our defence spending to at least 2 % of Norway’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2026. We will draw up a plan setting out how we will achieve this.
In 2014, all NATO member countries agreed to an ambition of meeting the 2 % of GDP defence investment guideline by 2024.
Many countries have achieved this target, and others have drawn up plans for how they intend to achieve it. Norway is now following suit.
We need to enhance our own defence capability in light of the growing instability, tension and polarisation in the world today.
And this will also help to strengthen NATO as an alliance.
It is a matter of sharing the burden, of solidarity.
Solidarity that is widely needed.
There is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ 24 February 2022. The first war in Europe since World War II with the objective of conquering a neighbouring country.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused – and continues to cause – inconceivable suffering and wide-scale destruction in Ukraine.
But the war has many direct and indirect impacts on Norway and other countries as well.
Russia is seeking to create a different Europe, using brutal military force.
This is why we are standing together with our allies and other democratic countries. And we are even more united than before. Atlantic, European and Nordic solidarity has been strengthened.
Norway supports Ukraine’s fight for freedom and independence, and condemns Russia’s war of aggression.
Country after country in Europe is increasing investment in its defence to adapt to the new security situation.
Norway has strong defence forces, and important steps to promote this have been taken in recent years. But we also know that we need to strengthen our defence and civil preparedness and enhance our resilience in times of crisis and war.
Norway’s national defence rests on three pillars: our military forces, bilateral agreements with other countries and our membership of NATO.
This is the basis for our security. It is our insurance.
But in the new security landscape in Europe, the price of our insurance premium has gone up.
It will cost more to safeguard our security.
Our membership of NATO is vital for Norway’s security and freedom.
We know that our close allies will – and are able to – be there for us if there is a threat to our security.
In the same way that we are there for our allies who need reassurance, such as Lithuania.
We are also NATO’s eyes and ears in the north. Every single day.
This is solidarity in practice. One for all, and all for one.
The security of the Alliance depends on reliable national defence among the members. The Alliance, our collective security, is the sum of these. We all have to contribute to this.
Norway is an energy nation; we are the largest supplier of gas to Europe.
Energy prices are volatile, which leads to fluctuation in our GDP.
Thus, Norway’s economic reality makes it difficult to manage spending based on a percentage of the nominal GDP.
For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, our defence spending was at 2 % of GDP. Even though we have allocated an additional NOK 11 billion to the Norwegian Armed Forces since we came to power in 2021, the current calculation for spending is now at less than 2 % of GDP for 2023.
My point is that in years with extraordinarily high revenues, we may fall short of our target, while we may exceed it in years when oil and gas revenues are low.
To facilitate long-term planning and achieve balanced growth of our defence capability, we will follow a course that ensures that we maintain a level of 2 % over time.
Of all the NATO countries, only the US spends more per capita on defence than Norway.
To conclude: we will be strengthening Norway’s defence capability. Thus, we are also strengthening the Alliance of which we are a part.
We are constantly reminded of the importance of this Alliance.
When I visited the Troll A gas platform in the North Sea a few weeks ago, together with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, we went down into one of the enormous legs of the platform. There, on one of the pipes, we wrote in big letters: ‘We are secure together!’ with our names underneath.
This accurately demonstrates our view that we are safer when we stand together.
And on that note, I would like to give the floor to the Minister of Finance.