The speech from the throne by His Majesty The King on the occasion of the opening of the 163th session of the Storting

The Storting, October 2 2018.

Mr President, Representatives of the People,

I greet the Storting as it takes up its solemn responsibilities with the wish that the fulfilment of these duties will be of benefit to our country.

 

On 17 January this year, the Liberal Party (Venstre) joined the coalition Government.

The political platform agreed by the parties at Jeløya provided the basis for broadening the coalition.  

The political platform sets out the Government’s goal of building a sustainable welfare-based society.  

It also describes six key challenges for Norway that the Government will work to address in order to achieve this goal.

 

The first challenge is to restructure the Norwegian economy so as to create jobs and ensure diversification.

The Government will further develop the road and rail network in order to promote restructuring and growth.  

New knowledge is vital for ensuring growth. The Government will present a revised long-term plan for research and higher education.

We must do more to update our skills and knowledge to ensure that no one becomes obsolete in the workplace. The Government will promote measures that enable more people to receive additional training while working.

 

The second challenge is to fulfil Norway’s climate commitments, so that we can shoulder our share of the responsibility for combating climate change.

Summer 2018 brought record high temperatures and drought. Extreme weather has become more common. It is crucial that the world meets its climate targets. Norway will fulfil its emission reduction commitment jointly with the EU.

The Paris Agreement is our most important international framework for climate action. Implementing guidelines for the Paris Agreement are due to be adopted in December. Norway will be at the forefront of these efforts.  

Protecting the world’s rainforests is crucial for tackling climate change. The Government will strengthen its work in this area.

The Government will pursue a policy that promotes green growth and the creation of new green jobs.

The Government will continue to promote the renewal of the national car fleet.  

 

The third challenge is to create an inclusive labour market. 

The Government’s aim is to ensure that our society has a high level of social equality and that everyone can participate and is given the opportunity to contribute. In Norway, the biggest divide is between those who are in work and those who are outside the labour market.

More people must be given the chance to provide for themselves and their families through paid work.

The positive developments in the labour market provide a good opportunity to step up our efforts in this area. The Government invites employers to take part in a collective national effort to recruit more people who are currently excluded from the labour market due to disability or gaps in their CVs.   

 

The fourth challenge is to ensure that we can sustain a robust welfare system at a time when the proportion of elderly people in the population is increasing.

The Government will continue to implement its elderly care reform, which is designed to give elderly people and their families more freedom of choice, better quality of life and a greater feeling of security.  

The Government will continue its pilot scheme on state-funded elderly care.  

Services for vulnerable people in our society, such as those with substance abuse or mental health problems, will be improved. A committee has been appointed to draw up proposals for reforming Norway’s drugs policy. Our aim is to ensure that drug users are given rapid and appropriate help, without risking prosecution.    

During the autumn of 2018, the Government aims to present a plan for stepping up efforts to improve children and young people’s mental health, and, in 2019, the Government will present a new national health and hospitals plan.

The Government will present a white paper on public health in which loneliness will be an important topic.  

 

The fifth challenge is to reduce poverty.

Having a job is the best way for people to increase their incomes and improve their wellbeing.  

The Government will therefore strengthen its welfare-to-work schemes.

An increased focus on improving skills and on promoting inclusion and integration will support people in their efforts to find work.   

The Government will give children from low-income families more opportunities to take part in recreational activities and to attend child day-care centres and after-school care, as this can help them to grow up to become independent and resourceful adults.

The Government is drawing up a white paper on social sustainability and reducing inequality.   

 

The sixth challenge is to significantly strengthen our efforts to promote integration.

The Government’s goal is for immigrants to participate fully in Norwegian society, in both their local and wider communities.  

The Government will improve Norwegian language training and the introduction programme for refugees, with a view to enabling more people to make the transition to ordinary employment or education more quickly.

Participation in sports, cultural activities and voluntary work gives people skills and experience that they can take with them into the workplace.

In order to ensure the sustainability of our welfare system, it is vital that more people are able to support themselves and take part in society.

For this reason, it is also necessary to regulate immigration. International migration is unpredictable. We need to maintain a high level of preparedness to be able to respond to sudden changes in the situation.

The Government will pursue a restrictive and responsible immigration policy that ensures due process.

 

One of the Government’s key priorities is to build a safer and more secure society. 

We must prevent children from being subjected to violence and abuse. The Government will enhance the level of expertise in the relevant public services, with a view to ensuring that incidences of violence and abuse are uncovered earlier.   

The Government will continue to implement the local police reform. This will improve the ability of the police to prevent crime and protect victims. 

In order to be able to protect the population in the event of a crisis, we need more police officers who are well trained and have ready access to the necessary equipment, vehicles and helicopters. The Government will therefore strengthen its preparedness and prevention efforts.   

It is crucial that the police develop new skills and expertise in order to address the threats posed by cybercrime. Coordinated efforts in this area are essential.   

The new Security Act will set out requirements that better safeguard the basic functions of society and the security of the population.

 

The new security landscape makes it essential to maintain a credible defence.

The Government will strengthen Norway’s defence capabilities through implementation of the current Long-term Defence Plan, and will start work on the next long-term plan.    

NATO’s collective security guarantee will continue to be the cornerstone of our security policy.  

At the same time, we are strengthening our cooperation with the US, the UK, Germany and the other Nordic countries.  

There is growing uncertainty in the world around us. The liberal world order, democratic institutions and free trade are under pressure.  

We must protect and defend the values we believe in.

Norway will also be affected by Brexit. The Government will work to ensure that cooperation under the EEA Agreement continues to function well, and at the same time will seek to maintain our close cooperation with the UK.

The Government will promote greater understanding of the fact that sustainable use of the oceans will both bring environmental benefits and enhance value creation. The High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy is an important initiative in this area.

 

The Government will implement new initiatives in a number of areas. Together, these initiatives will help us to reach our goal of building a sustainable welfare-based society and will advance our efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 

I pray that God will bless the deliberations of this Storting, and I hereby declare the 163rd session of the Storting to be open.

 

Given at the Royal Palace in Oslo on 21 September 2018

Under Our Hand and the Seal of the Realm

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