The speech from the throne by His Majesty The King on the occasion of the opening of the 158th session of the Storting

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Office of the Prime Minister

The Storting, 9 October 2013

The Storting, 9 October 2013.

Mr President, Representatives of the People,

I greet the newly elected 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 Government pursues a policy of solidarity, value creation and social justice.

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 vision is to be able to hand over to the next generation something more valuable than we ourselves took over.

The Government will pursue a policy of sustainable development. Norway will be at the forefront of efforts to achieve an ambitious climate agreement that includes binding commitments for all countries.

In Norway, we have kept our economy in order; we have a low unemployment rate, high levels of employment and an innovative business sector. In other European countries, there is economic instability, social unrest and high unemployment.

One of the Government’s aims is to ensure that Norway continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in Europe. This means that we must maintain our competitiveness.

There is less income disparity in Norway, and differences are not passed down from one generation to the next to the same extent as they are in most other countries. We have confidence in one another and in our society.

The Government will maintain the Norwegian welfare model, which combines equitable distribution of income, steady economic growth, high labour market participation, and macroeconomic stability.

Work gives people financial independence and prevents poverty. The Government will strengthen schemes that enable children from low-income families to take part in recreational activities.

The Government wishes to continue its cooperation with the social partners through a new agreement on inclusive working life.

The Government will increase the number of places available in employment schemes for people with reduced work capacity.

The Government will continue its efforts to promote a responsible labour market and to combat social dumping.

The Government believes that the oil revenues should benefit both present and future generations. The purpose of the Government Pension Fund is to ensure good long-term returns at a moderate level of risk. The Government will maintain the long-term investment strategy even in periods of financial market turbulence.

Both society as a whole and individuals have had to pay a high price as a result of the international financial crisis. The Government considers it essential that Norwegian banks are robust.

The Government will revitalise the public sector, for example through investments in ICT systems. The Government will follow up its digitisation programme, and during the course of 2014 the whole population will have the opportunity to receive post from the public administration via a digital mailbox.

Through the distribution of wireless broadband frequencies and grants to extend the broadband network to areas that currently have limited or no broadband access, all households in the country are to be assured high quality, basic broadband access.

The Government will facilitate the participation of the disabled and others with special needs in the digitisation of society by requiring that ICT systems for the general public are accessible for everyone.

It is the Government’s goal that Norway should be one of the three countries in the world with the highest life expectancy, and that the general population should enjoy more years of good health and well-being. The Government will work to reduce health inequalities and to create a society that promotes good health for the whole population.

The Government will invest in measures to reduce waiting time for treatment, in more modern equipment and in new hospital buildings. The Government wishes to see extended hospital work hours for planned treatments.

The Government will implement the national cancer strategy with a view to improving the quality of cancer treatment. The health regions are to look into the possibility of providing modern particle therapy for the treatment of cancer.

The Government will strengthen and expand the system of free choice of hospital, in the first instance by including X-ray centres in the system.

The Government will seek to ensure that ICT systems in the health service are as closely integrated as possible, and will explore the possibility of introducing a system whereby each inhabitant has just one set of health records. The Government will propose a new Personal Health Data Filing System Act and a new act on health records with a view to modernising the legislation in this area and ensuring that health records follow the patient.

The Government will promote good, innovative and reliable care services in which ICT is used to enhance coordination. In accordance with the Care Plan 2020, the Government will promote the development of welfare technology, enhance cooperation with relatives and voluntary workers and encourage the development of new working methods.

Good quality child day care centres give children a good start in life. The Government will strengthen entitlement to a place in a day care centre, and will increase the number of places available, with a view to meeting the goal of twice-yearly admission. The Government will continue efforts to increase the level of qualifications among day care centre staff. From the autumn of 2013, a new training course will link training and practice more closely together.

Norwegian schools are performing better, and pupils are learning more. The Government will further develop the public education system with a view to ensuring that all pupils are included and experience a real sense of learning. The Government will follow up the four-year pilot scheme to increase the number of teachers per pupil in lower secondary schools.

The greatest challenge in upper secondary education is to increase the number of pupils who complete courses that qualify them for further education or provide them with vocational qualifications. The Government will continue to work to increase the number of pupils who complete upper secondary education by following up the strategy for the development of lower secondary education, and through the Ny Giv – New Possibilities project and a number of other measures designed to improve the quality of vocational training.

The Government will introduce the right to an additional year of education for those who have qualified for a trade certificate to encourage more people to take further vocational training

The Government will evaluate the quality of higher education and will present a white paper on standards in universities and university colleges.

The Government has started work on developing a ten-year research and higher education plan.

The Government will promote the development of a knowledge-based business sector by encouraging business-related research and innovation.

In order to ensure the continued availability of reasonably priced student accommodation, the Government will increase both the general cost ceiling for building new student flats and the grants provided for student housing.

The Government is planning for continued growth in municipal revenues so that local services can be further developed and welfare improved.

The Government will pursue a proactive, differentiated rural and regional policy.

The Government will work actively to ensure that regional investment aid and the differentiated employers’ national insurance contributions scheme can be continued under the new EU legislation in this area.

The Government will simplify planning and building procedures and at the same time seek to ensure high building standards.

The Government will pursue an active business policy in all parts of the country to promote value creation, population growth, the creation of new jobs and profitable innovation. The Government will follow up its maritime strategy and will make the net wage arrangement a statutory scheme.

The Government will seek to ensure that land-based food production can increase in pace with the demands of a growing population. The Government will continue to further develop the income and social welfare policy for the agricultural and forestry sector. The Government will consider introducing a bill on good practice in the grocery trade and will promote development, renewal and greater competitiveness in the forestry sector.

The Government will follow up the white paper on seafood policy with a view to realising the potential for growth in the marine industries.

 

The Government will follow up the 2012 white paper and agreement between the political parties on climate policy, and will continue to work to promote effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at both national and international level.

The allocation to forest protection has been substantially increased and the Government will further increase efforts to protect large areas of forest.

The Government will continue its work to improve power supply security and to improve the country’s ability to manage flood, landslide and avalanche risk.

The Government intends to ensure long-term management of the Norwegian continental shelf and the greatest possible value creation within an environmentally sound framework and in such a way that the oil and gas industry can coexist with other industries.

A well-functioning and innovative transport system is vital for increasing value creation, improving quality of life, and making use of the whole country. The Government will work to achieve the ambitious objectives set out in the National Transport Plan 2014–2023.  

The population should be able to feel secure about their lives, health and important values. The Government will continue to take a systematic and long-term approach to civil protection and emergency planning in order to ensure that various security challenges can be dealt with.

The Government will follow up the review of the Norwegian police service (Official Norwegian Report 2013:9) and will report back to the Storting in an appropriate manner.

The Government will work to increase ICT security in accordance with the Cyber Security Strategy for Norway.

The Government will seek to ensure that everyone living in Norway can realise their potential and take part in society. Greater use is to be made of immigrants’ skills and expertise in working life.

The Government will continue its efforts to promote gender equality and will follow up the white paper that was presented in the spring.

The Government will safeguard children’s rights and combat abuse of children and young people.

The Government will continue to strengthen the child welfare services.

The Government is on track to meet the target set out in the Cultural Initiative of increasing the allocation for culture to 1 % of Norway’s national budget, and will continue to implement the Initiative. The Government will alter the distribution formula for profits from the national lottery to strengthen sports and cultural activities.

The Government is taking active steps to ensure that the Sami can develop their culture and maintain their languages, and is increasing the allocations for these purposes.

The Government has implemented the agreement reached in the Storting on the relationship between church and state, and will provide full funding for the religious education reform.

The Government will pursue an active and targeted security and defence policy. The Government will give priority to enhancing the Armed Forces’ overall operational capacity and will further develop the Armed Forces in line with the current long-term plan. The Government will further develop cooperation between the Armed Forces and the police through joint training and exercises.

The main features of Norwegian foreign policy will remain unchanged. This includes our strong support for the UN and international law, our membership of NATO, our commitment to the EEA Agreement and our status as a non-member of the EU.

The High North will continue to be the Government’s most important strategic foreign policy priority. The Government will further develop cooperation in forums such as the Barents Euro-Artic Council, the Arctic Council and the Northern Dimension.

 

The EU is Norway’s most important economic partner. The Government will pursue an active European policy and will work systematically to safeguard Norwegian interests vis-à-vis the EU.

The Government will allocate 1 % of GNI to promote fair distribution and reduce poverty in developing countries.

The results of the parliamentary election changed the political composition of the Storting. This may affect the basis for further work on some of the policies announced here.

I pray that God will bless the deliberations of this Storting, and I hereby declare the 158th session of the Storting to be open. 

Given at the Royal Palace in Oslo on 4 October 2013

Under Our Hand and the Seal of the Realm