Speech/statement | Date: 02/10/2020 | Office of the Prime Minister
The Storting, 2 October 2020.
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.
For six months, our everyday life has been dominated by the coronavirus.
The virus has claimed lives.
Forced workplaces to close.
And restricted our freedom.
For six months, the Government has been working to protect Norwegian society from the virus.
And from the impacts of the pandemic.
In the period we are now entering, the Government’s aim is to enable us to return to our normal everyday life.
The hope is that a vaccine will be approved around the turn of the year.
That the health service will gradually be able to vaccinate a growing proportion of the population as next summer approaches.
That we will once again be able to live our lives as we wish.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of international cooperation.
This has been vital in the efforts to ensure access to vaccines for Norway.
The Government will work to ensure that vulnerable countries also benefit from vaccines.
Through the UN Security Council, Norway will promote effective international cooperation, in line with Norwegian interests and values.
The Government would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the national effort to fight the virus.
Health workers who are on the frontline.
Teachers who shifted so quickly to teaching online.
Shop workers, transport workers and cleaners who have kept the country’s wheels turning.
The municipalities that are testing, tracing infections and dealing with local outbreaks.
Everyone who has been working from home.
Everyone who has gone shopping for a neighbour who is in a high-risk group.
Athletes and people working in the cultural sector whose activities this season have been cut short or ruined.
People who have taken an extra shift at a nursing home to give a patient a hand to hold as his or her life slipped away.
Companies and employees who have stood together and fought to save jobs.
And not least, everyone who closed down workplaces when infection control measures made this necessary.
In these extremely difficult times, we have seen Norway at its best.
Together, we have achieved a great deal.
Together, we will see this through.
All the way until we have got our lives back to normal again.
A high rate of employment is the most important prerequisite for maintaining the Norwegian welfare state.
Unemployment poses a serious challenge to our welfare-based society.
In addition to the strain it places on individuals.
Stringent measures were introduced when the virus struck.
Fortunately, many of those who lost their jobs are now back at work.
But unemployment is still too high.
Many people are still facing uncertainty about what the future holds.
About whether there will be a place for them in the Norwegian workforce again.
The Government’s aim is to ensure that everyone who can work has a job to go to.
The Government will monitor developments in the sectors that have been hit the hardest.
It is essential to ensure that otherwise viable jobs are not lost.
The Government will assess the need to make changes to existing schemes, or if necessary, introduce new ones.
The Government will implement new initiatives to steer Norway safely out of the crisis.
The major effort to improve skills will be intensified.
Some of the jobs that are gone will not be coming back.
Workers must be offered opportunities to retrain.
So that they can acquire the skills they need for the new jobs that will be created.
The Government’s aim is to ensure that no one becomes obsolete in the Norwegian labour market.
The transition to a greener Norway is well under way.
The policies of this Government have brought Norway closer and closer to achieving its climate targets for 2020.
New initiatives will be needed to meet the new, ambitious targets for 2030.
The Government will present a white paper outlining the action Norway will take to meet the 2030 climate targets.
The work of redesigning the tax system so that it is more profitable to make green choices will continue in 2021.
The Government will present a proposal for the construction of a full-scale carbon capture and storage facility.
The new jobs Norway needs in the time ahead will not come about on their own.
It will require bold and creative people who have the courage to pursue new ventures.
Knowledge to develop new products and services.
Predictable access to international markets.
And a tax system that promotes innovation, value creation and access to capital.
The Government will implement new initiatives that facilitate the creation of more jobs in Norway in the time ahead.
The Government will promote inclusion in the labour market and seek to improve the situation of vulnerable groups.
A reform intended to make things easier for families with children who have complex needs will be presented.
The reform of Norway’s drug policy will improve services for people with substance abuse problems. The aim is for the necessary decisions and legislative amendments to be made in 2021.
The suicide prevention action plan will be followed up.
The initiative to strengthen health services will help to reduce waiting times, which have increased as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
The financial situation of families with small children will be improved. The Government will further increase child benefit for the youngest children.
The Government will improve opportunities for children and young people from low-income families, and will present a strategy for this work.
Creating more jobs and maintaining a high employment rate are the most important factors for ensuring that Norway continues to be a country with a high degree of social equality and opportunities for all.
Finally, the Government would like to remind everyone of the most important things each of us can do to contribute to the national effort to fight the coronavirus:
Remember to wash your hands.
Stay at home if you are ill.
And remember the one-metre rule.
The Government thanks the Storting for its cooperation during the period that has just passed. The fact that it has been possible to take important decisions quickly is one of the strengths of Norway’s response to the crisis.
The Government invites the Storting to continue this constructive cooperation.
I pray that God will bless the deliberations of this Storting, and I hereby declare the 165th session of the Storting to be open.
Given at the Royal Palace on 25 September 2020
Under the Seal of the Realm
During the absence of His Majesty The King