The Government wants to reinforce national control to strengthen the Norwegian community of families on Svalbard

The Government today presented a new Report to the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament) on Svalbard. The Government wants to strengthen the Norwegian community of families in Longyearbyen and shore up governmental control of important infrastructure.

The Government is also announcing measures to strengthen energy supplies, extend the general application rights for collective pay agreements, and provide clearer Norwegian governance of research on Svalbard, as well as signalling further measures regarding traffic around Svalbard.

“Svalbard is an important part of Norway. At a time of major changes, the governance of Svalbard must continue to be predictable and maintain a steady course. We want to strengthen national control and support Norway’s presence in the archipelago,” says Norway’s Minister of Justice and Public Security, Emilie Enger Mehl (Centre Party).

To lay a foundation for stable and predictable governance, the Government regularly presents Reports to the Storting that review all aspects of Svalbard’s governance. Major changes have taken place in Svalbard since the previous Svalbard white paper in 2016. There are more inhabitants in Longyearbyen than ever, and the composition of the population has also changed.

Climate change is making its mark on the archipelago, and tourism, research and education have developed as an important basis for settlement in parallel with the decline in coal mining. The Government is committed to ensuring Norwegian ownership of important infrastructure and real property, both on the mainland and on Svalbard.

In addition, the Government wants to strengthen the security of energy supplies in Longyearbyen. In its white paper, the Government signals a clear intention that the state should take greater responsibility for the energy supply, for example by assigning responsibility for the energy transition to the state-owned company Store Norske.

“In particular, the measures will support the goal of Norwegian communities in the archipelago and the goal of preserving the area’s distinctive natural wilderness, and as a whole they will generally strengthen the degree of national control over activity in the archipelago,” says Ms Mehl.

The Minister of Justice and Public Security, Emilie Enger Mehl, will present the new white paper on Svalbard at the University Centre on Svalbard in Longyearbyen today, 31 May at 13:30.