The Government's political platform: A government for ordinary people
Report | Date: 15/10/2021 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The current Government, formed by the Labour Party and the Centre Party, took office on 14 October 2021. The introduction to the Government’s political platform and the chapters on defence policy and foreign policy are available in English below.
The 2021 general election was all about what sort of society we want. The result gave a historically high majority in favour of a new, fairer path for the country. Ordinary people across the country want their lives, problems and interests to be at the top of the agenda again.
Norway’s greatest assets are the high level of trust we have in one another and the strong sense of community that binds us together. A high degree of social equality and a vibrant democracy have made Norway one of the best countries in the world to live in. Feelings of powerlessness, the privatisation and centralisation of services, and growing inequality erode trust, our sense of security, and cohesion in society.
After eight years of increasing inequality and centralisation, the Government will hand power back to ordinary people in all areas of society. Most important of all is to provide security in the labour market for everyone and access to good welfare services near to where people live. This will lead to equal opportunities and ensure that everyone is supported by a strong social safety net. In this way, we can create a basis for people all over the country to lead good lives and give people more power over their own lives.
By putting ordinary people first, we will also equip Norway to tackle the major tasks ahead in connection with the climate crisis, digitalisation and the challenges facing the welfare state. Strong communities, a high level of trust and a high degree of social equality are crucial for giving people the security they need to do their part to develop Norway. By building on the best aspects of our country, we motivate people to work together to bring about social change. People will work for the good of society when society works for them.
Ensuring labour market security for all will be job number one.
Labour market security for all is the key to promoting social equality and individual freedom. More young people must be given a chance to participate in the labour market. A more active business policy will generate new jobs and increased exports, and industry based on our common natural resources such as wind, water, fish and forests will be given priority. Labour policy will be underpinned by respect for ordinary people’s honest work and will be designed to ensure a decent wage; access to full-time, permanent positions; and a secure pension for everyone.
We will develop the whole of Norway.
The time for steamrolling local communities is over. No municipalities or counties will be coerced or pressured into mergers. Local communities must be able to decide more for themselves, and people must have more influence over and must be able to take pride in the areas they call home. Throughout Norway, we will ensure access to high-quality services near to where people live, more jobs, good infrastructure and a wide range of cultural activities. The public sector will play a greater role in the local community, and public sector employees will be given greater autonomy and will have more time for the users of their services.
We will pursue a fair climate policy that cuts emissions and creates jobs.
Addressing the climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time. Climate and environmental considerations will be at the core of all government policy. Norway’s ambitious climate targets apply to the entire Government and all sectors of society. These targets must be met. Our policy will facilitate the rapid development of sustainable industries based on the know-how of world-leading industry experts. The oil and gas industry will be developed, not dismantled. Climate policy must not seek to moralise, and it must be fair. This approach will enable us to continue to be a country with a high degree of social equality and to ensure broad, popular support for our climate policy.
We will combat inequality and injustice.
The fight against social inequality in Norway is a fight to preserve our social model. Poverty must be reduced, particularly among families with children. Ordinary people must have access to employment in a secure labour market and must pay less tax on their own income. The general level of taxation will be reduced and welfare services such as child day-care centres and after-school care will be made more affordable for everyone. People with major assets and higher incomes will contribute more to the public purse. Wage differences in the public sector will be reduced.
We will invest in knowledge and lifelong practical learning.
A secure childhood provides a sound foundation for life. More qualified teachers who have more time for each individual pupil are the key to promoting practical learning and successful schooling in the early years. All children must be able to learn and thrive in the state education system. The value of vocational and practical educational programmes and skills must be acknowledged more widely. There must be a focus on developing people’s skills throughout their working lives and good, decentralised educational programmes in close alignment with regional and local labour markets.
We will give people back their sense of security across the country.
People must be sure that the social safety net will be there when they really need it, regardless of where they live in Norway. In recent years, people in many parts of the country have experienced greater insecurity. To enable them to regain a sense of security, it is crucial that the police, the ambulance service, the fire and rescue services and the Norwegian Civil Defence increase their presence and respond more quickly, particularly in outlying districts. Stepping up food production in Norway is a critical element of our preparedness. The defence of our nation state will be a priority.
We will have world-class public health and care services.
Public health and care services must be accessible to everyone, regardless of their address or the size of their wallet. We will have highly qualified health and care professionals, will give priority to preventive care and will listen to patients. After eight years of cuts and tight budgets, a robust municipal and hospital economy is critical for increasing basic staffing and improving services for the elderly and the ill. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a major concerted effort is needed to strengthen the mental healthcare services.
We will make a difference in the world.
Norway will safeguard Norwegian interests abroad and promote close international cooperation and a world order based on international law. In areas where Norway has comparative advantages such as energy, climate action and health, we will make a difference internationally. The Arctic is Norway’s most important peace project.
Norway will show solidarity with people in need and will lead the way in the fight against poverty and hunger. Our commitment to the EEA Agreement and our membership of Nato will remain unchanged. The Government will not seek membership of the EU.
Defence: a defence by and for the people
The aim of the Government’s defence policy is to safeguard Norway’s security, safety and freedom of action, and our interests and values. The Norwegian Armed Forces are tasked with deterring and preventing war and conflict, within the framework of the Nato Alliance. The security policy landscape around us is changing and has become more unpredictable. The Armed Forces are responsible for upholding Norwegian sovereignty and safeguarding national interests. It is essential that Norway has an independent, national defence with appropriate land, sea, air and cyberspace capabilities. Nato membership is a cornerstone of Norwegian defence and security policy.
It is particularly important to ensure that the Norwegian Armed Forces are capable of responding to potential challenges in the Arctic. The security policies of the Nordic countries are becoming more and more interlinked. The Government will strengthen Norway’s defence capability and military presence in North Norway. At the same time, it is vital that the Norwegian Armed Forces have the capacity to contribute to collective efforts to promote international peace and security.
In the coming parliamentary period, it will be crucial to ensure that the Army is further developed as a modern military ground force. The Norwegian Special Forces will be provided with the equipment they need to further increase their military special operations capabilities, including in connection with the fight against international terrorism. The Home Guard must be modernised to become a territorial force with local knowledge and a presence across the country. Maintaining a military presence and fighting power in Troms og Finnmark county is a matter of strategic importance to Norway.
At the same time, Norway is a coastal state with one of the world’s longest coastlines. The Norwegian Navy and Air Force play a crucial role in carrying out surveillance of our vast sea and coastal areas. In this respect, Norway has a key position as the northern flank of Nato. Combined with our intelligence, cyber defence and land defence capabilities, Norway’s maritime surveillance capabilities enable us to carry out the important tasks for the Alliance that fall to us because of our geographical location. The Government will follow up and facilitate the phasing in of new fighter jets and maritime surveillance aircraft for the Air Force and the acquisition of new submarines for the Navy.
Personnel are the Norwegian Armed Forces’ most important resource. The Government intends to establish more than 1 000 new FTE (full-time equivalent) positions in the Armed Forces in the coming period, primarily for operational personnel. The Government’s intention is for the Armed Forces to carry out more training and exercises. At the same time, we will work to ensure that Armed Forces personnel remain in the organisation for longer periods of time. This will require efforts in a range of areas, including relating to military exercises, good family policy, housing and educational opportunities.
Compulsory military service ensures that the Armed Forces maintain a democratic basis and makes it possible to achieve the necessary level of recruitment.
The Government will recognise the service our veterans have given to Norway through their participation in international operations, and ensure that personnel receive proper follow-up in terms of health and social care prior to, during and after their service.
The Government will:
- Support Nato’s 2 % target and strive to achieve a balance in the long term between the tasks, structure and budget of the Norwegian Armed Forces.
- Establish a fund for Andøy municipality with an allocation of NOK 250 million. This will not lead to a reduction in other allocations to Andøy municipality or prevent the municipality from receiving other funding for business activities. The Government will also work to create more jobs and increase business activity in Andøy municipality, for example by strengthening the space industry, promoting tourism and developing the Port of Andenes.
- Increase Norway’s overall defence capability by strengthening and further developing our own national defence, the Nato Alliance and cooperation with close Allies.
- Strengthen and deepen Nordic security and defence policy cooperation, as a supplement to cooperation in the Nato Alliance.
- Strengthen Norway’s defence capability in North Norway through relevant contributions from all branches of the Armed Forces.
- Invest in key capabilities such as fighter jets, submarines and surveillance aircraft.
- Invest in new main battle tanks for the Army.
- Provide dedicated helicopters for the Army, which will be stationed and organised as a squadron based at Bardufoss.
- Transfer an adequate number of Bell 412 helicopters to Bardufoss to strengthen the Army’s helicopter capacity pending the procurement of new helicopters. These transfers are to be based on an assessment that takes into account the military needs of both the Army and the Norwegian Special Forces.
- Determine the Navy’s future fleet structure, in the context of the development of the Armed Forces as a whole.
- Strengthen the defence sector’s efforts to address cyber threats and ensure that the Armed Forces are able to recruit and retain personnel with relevant digital competence.
- Put in place the intelligence and surveillance resources needed to provide the national authorities and Nato with up-to-date situational awareness in the Arctic.
- Increase the number of Home Guard soldiers in the regional districts to 45 000. In order to meet the need for personnel in the Home Guard, consider establishing a dedicated training facility.
- Make use of strategic agreements to facilitate preparedness and ensure capacity to receive Allied reinforcements, and improve logistical efficiency and effectiveness.
- Facilitate joint training activities and exercises with Allied and neighbouring countries.
- Implement an ambitious plan to increase the number of personnel in the operational units of the Armed Forces.
- Aim to ensure that military staff functions in the Armed Forces are situated, as a rule, near the operational units.
- Use public procurement processes to develop and improve offset arrangements in the Norwegian defence industry.
- Ensure that, when procuring equipment, the Armed Forces to a greater extent purchase equipment that is already developed and tested. The Norwegian authorities will strive to secure binding offset agreements that promote value creation and technology transfer at the national level.
- Ensure that cleaning services in all branches of the Armed Forces are once again administered by the Armed Forces themselves.
- Carry out a review of cooperation between the Norwegian Armed Forces and the private sector, for example in the areas of security, preparedness, competence management, and international humanitarian law.
- Improve care of Norwegian veterans before, during and after service, with a particular focus on health and social care, financial security and family issues.
- Ensure that society makes better use of veterans’ valuable skills and expertise.
- Ensure that security clearance of personnel is carried out on the basis of an individual assessment of the facts in each case, rather than a schematic assessment.
- In the course of autumn 2021, appoint a broad-based defence committee to start the groundwork for a new Long-term Defence Plan from 2025.
- Promote closer cooperation between the Armed Forces and society at large in order to strengthen national defence capability and Norway’s overall preparedness.
Foreign policy: a safer, fairer and greener world
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-EU member. The Government will work to further strengthen Nordic cooperation. The Arctic will continue to be Norway’s most important area of strategic interest.
As the 2020s get under way, the world is facing greater uncertainty and unpredictability. Tensions between the major powers are rising. Global pandemics and climate change pose challenges that affect both domestic and foreign policy. Disarmament agreements are being undermined and abandoned. Democratic values are being threatened.
The aim of Norwegian foreign policy is to safeguard Norwegian interests, security and values in a world that has become more unstable and unpredictable. The Government will give priority to addressing the climate change threat, developing the Arctic region, facilitating good trade relations, reducing global inequality and enhancing global food security.
Norwegian foreign policy must succeed in balancing geopolitical considerations, forging new alliances and addressing today’s most critical challenges: promoting geopolitical stability and responding to the global climate change threat.
It is an expression of solidarity and in Norway’s interests to work to promote a fairer world in which fewer people live in unfree societies and in need.
Peace and security
The Government will pursue a robust, balanced and clearly formulated security policy aimed at safeguarding Norway’s security and freedom of action, and our interests and values. Predictable international cooperation based on international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes is the best way to promote peace and security. Cooperation with our Nato Allies is the foundation of our military security. Norwegian security policy would also benefit from expanding its support structure; closer Nordic cooperation on foreign and security policy is one example. Norway must shoulder its share of the responsibility for combating all forms of extremism. The Government will strengthen Norway’s role in preventing, reducing and resolving conflicts.
The Government will:
- Work to strengthen and further develop the Nato Alliance and at the same time increase cooperation with our Nordic neighbours, Germany and the UK and other like-minded countries.
- Pursue new initiatives to further develop the law of the sea and international law.
- Work proactively to strengthen the UN system, to make the UN more effective and representative, and to promote closer Nordic cooperation and a clearer Nordic voice in the UN.
- Use Norway’s membership of the UN Security Council in 2021–2022 to strengthen international law, and to focus attention on climate issues, protection of civilians and children’s rights in situations of war and conflict, and the rights of women.
- Increase Norway’s contributions to UN peace operations.
- Cooperate with China, working with other Nordic and European countries, in areas of common interest, and stand up for Norwegian social values and international human rights.
- Strengthen Norway’s conflict resolution and reconciliation efforts through targeted peace initiatives, with particular focus on Europe’s unstable southern neighbourhood.
- Seek to advance international arms control and disarmament efforts, ensure compliance with the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty, and take necessary steps to regulate the development of autonomous weapons systems.
- Ensure that Norway’s participation in international military operations has a basis in the UN Charter or Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
- Step up Norway’s efforts to promote nuclear disarmament, take steps to focus attention on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and work with countries both in and outside Nato to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.
- Participate as an observer at the meetings of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
International cooperation on climate change
Climate change is affecting patterns of conflict, alliances and power relations. Poor people are affected first and hit the hardest. Clean energy, lower greenhouse gas emissions, food security and better management of vulnerable species and habitats are all vital for building a more equitable world. The Paris Agreement sets out that the provision of financial support should aim to achieve a balance between mitigation and adaptation. Climate adaptation will also open up a wide range of international opportunities for Norwegian value creation.
The Government will:
- Make renewable energy a key priority area in Norwegian development policy.
- Renew the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative by carrying out a critical review of the situation in current partner countries and the need to provide support for the protection of rainforests in other countries.
- Ensure that Norway leads the way in international efforts to combat climate change in areas where we have comparative advantages and where there is potential to promote activity and jobs, such as carbon capture and storage, renewable electricity and green shipping, and the efforts to promote sustainable oceans and seabed mapping.
- Take on a leading international role by establishing a climate initiative that mobilises finance for and accelerates the development of renewable energy and climate technology in developing countries and emerging economies where emissions from coal-fired power plants and capital costs are high.
- Place Norway at the forefront of efforts to promote an ambitious international agreement that ensures more sustainable management of the natural environment, using the Paris Agreement as a model.
- Ensure that greater priority is given to environmental considerations in our relations with other countries.
Intensified efforts in the Arctic
The Arctic is Norway’s most important strategic priority. The Government will work to raise the level of ambition in Norway’s Arctic policy, with an emphasis on close and targeted cooperation with other countries and a particular focus on expanding onshore activity in Norway. The Government will revitalise and strengthen its efforts and has high aims for development in the north. The new Arctic policy will seek to reverse population decline in the north, make full use of local resources to create growth, place the Arctic at the centre of the green transition, generate greater spin-off effects and promote new initiatives for cooperation with our neighbours. The Government considers it important to ensure Norwegian ownership of key infrastructure and property assets, and national control of natural resources.
Intensified efforts in the Arctic will entail dynamic initiatives across a range of sectors, such as education and research, resource management, industry and transport. Svalbard has major strategic importance for Norway’s opportunities in the Arctic region, and Norway’s Svalbard policy is therefore an important component of the Government’s Arctic policy. The Government will maintain the Norwegian settlements in Svalbard.
The Government will:
- Seek to keep tensions in Norway’s neighbouring areas low by maintaining Norway’s presence in the region and by acting in a way that is clear, predictable and reassuring.
- Strengthen foreign and security policy dialogue in the north and establish joint meeting places for discussing security policy challenges.
- Increase people-to-people cooperation through the Barents cooperation and the Barents secretariat.
- Strengthen institutional cooperation between countries and peoples in the north, through forums such as the Arctic Council and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.
- Put forward a proposal for international climate cooperation between the countries that have boreal forests.
- Seek to increase knowledge and promote further mapping of the continental shelf in the northernmost areas, in cooperation with other Arctic states.
- Further develop bilateral cooperation with Russia in the north, with particular focus on cooperation on issues relating to the oceans, natural resources, climate change and coastal areas of the Barents Sea and Arctic.
- Further develop Norway’s Svalbard policy in a way that safeguards Norwegian interests and Norwegian settlements, and promotes sustainable development in the Arctic.
The Nordic region and Europe
The Government will develop and deepen Nordic cooperation in a range of fields. The Nordic and European countries are Norway’s most important political and economic partners. The Government will firmly defend European values, openness and cooperation at a time when authoritarianism, nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise.
The EEA Agreement will form the basis for Norway’s relations with Europe. The Government will work more proactively to promote Norwegian interests within the framework of the Agreement, and will make full use of the options available to Norway under the EEA Agreement, with particular emphasis on ensuring national control of areas such as the Norwegian labour market, energy and railways.
The Government will:
- Expand and strengthen Nordic cooperation in the areas of defence and security policy, the economy, technology, climate policy and infrastructure.
- Pursue a proactive European policy in a wide range of areas in order to safeguard Norwegian interests.
- Participate actively in and seek to influence Europe’s climate efforts and work to ensure that Norwegian companies can position themselves in the best way possible to take full advantage of the opportunities that arise in this context.
- Carry out a review to assess lessons learned from the last 10 years of EEA cooperation, including a study on the experience of like-minded non-EU countries that have other agreements with the EU.
- As soon as possible, enter into dialogue with the EU with the aim of securing an exemption for Norway from some of the provisions of the EU’s Fourth Railway Package.
- Further develop cooperation with the UK in the area of foreign and security policy and maintain wide-ranging cooperation across the North Sea.
- Promote closer cooperation in Europe in the area of justice and home affairs policy in order to improve the ability to combat cybercrime and other types of transnational crime.
- Intensify efforts to promote Norwegian culture abroad as part of a large-scale cultural initiative.
- Review the impact of the EEA and Norway Grants, which are allocated to social and economic development in the EEA, in light of the increase in funding in recent years.
Democracy, rights and gender equality
Respect for the fundamental rights of all people forms the basis for the Government’s international engagement. In recent years, democratic backsliding has accelerated worldwide. Democracy and the principles of the rule of law are being challenged in Europe too. A fair and just world is also an egalitarian world. In its international efforts to promote gender equality, the Government will give priority to women’s right to decide over their own bodies.
The Government will:
- Work to prevent infringements on democracy and human rights and fight against violations of international law and human rights wherever they take place, with particular emphasis on freedom of expression, freedom of belief and freedom of assembly.
- Strengthen democracy’s standing in the world by supporting independent courts, free media, trade unions and civil society as a whole.
- Make active use of the tripartite cooperation between government, employer organisations and employee organisations and give priority to workers’ rights in Norway’s human rights work.
- Promote cooperation between Norwegian artists and other cultural practitioners and their counterparts in countries where human rights and freedom of expression are under pressure.
- Increase Norway’s capacity to prosecute crimes against humanity.
- Support international efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence.
- Combat the persecution and discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation.
The Government’s development policy is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the climate targets and the international human rights instruments. Norwegian development policy is intended to promote social change, and we therefore need to be more strategic in our choice of focus areas and priorities. The Government has identified six priority areas for development policy. We will spend 1 % of Norway’s gross national income on international efforts to achieve the SDGs, which encompass the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental.
The experience gained from building our own welfare state will be useful as Norway further develops its leading role in the efforts to provide access to health services for all, inclusive education and not-for-profit solutions, with the aim of reducing disparities and advancing gender equality. The Government will promote more effective international health cooperation and more robust global health preparedness to facilitate prevention, early detection and rapid response to new or persistent infectious disease threats and increases in antimicrobial resistance.
The Government will coordinate with other actors and guide Norway’s efforts to ensure that they have maximum impact. We will critically review the use of global funds in order to increase the effectiveness of Norway’s development aid.
Civil society organisations both in Norway and in recipient countries are important partners and channels for Norwegian development aid. The Government will honour political commitments that have been made and will respect democratic priorities in recipient countries.
The Government will:
- Amalgamate climate and development policy and give priority to renewable energy, renewing the Climate and Forest Initiative, and support for climate change adaptation. We will make clean energy a key priority area in Norwegian development policy by converting the Oil for Development programme into an Energy for Development programme, bringing together actors from the Norwegian energy sector under an ambitious, coordinated initiative.
- Make food security and the fight against hunger a priority area in Norwegian development policy with an emphasis on promoting sustainable small-scale food production and climate-resilient agriculture.
- Reduce inequality. Sustainable economic growth, job creation, a well organised labour market and equitable distribution of social and economic goods provide the main path out of poverty. A well-functioning tax system and an efficient public sector can deliver health, education and welfare services.
- Strengthen women’s right to decide over their own body. The Government will step up Norway’s efforts on this issue, establish new alliances and increase support for family planning, contraception and safe abortion.
- Provide emergency humanitarian aid. Norway will do its part to alleviate suffering following outbreaks of disease or natural and man-made disasters. The Government will ensure closer coordination between emergency humanitarian aid and long-term development assistance and is willing to try out new methods and approaches in the area of humanitarian response.
- Combat communicable diseases. The Government will support the financing, development and equitable distribution of vaccines and other health technologies that the market cannot deliver on its own. Through political leadership, diplomacy and financial support, Norway will continue to actively promote fair and just global cooperation in the areas of pandemic response and health preparedness.
Trade and international economic affairs
A transparent, rules-based trading system provides predictability and is essential for ensuring fair trade, particularly for a country like Norway that has important export industries and an open economy, and needs a stable framework for its domestic industries. Tax evasion undermines confidence in national tax systems, leads to unfair competition between companies and a higher tax burden on people, and reduces the state’s ability to finance welfare provision. Increasing the tax base is essential in order to stabilise countries affected by conflict and fragility and enable developing countries to end their dependence on aid.
It is essential to Norway’s interests that the Norwegian business sector enjoys international success and contributes to Norwegian value creation. The Government will therefore make the promotion of Norwegian value creation and Norwegian companies abroad a key task of Norway’s foreign and trade policy.
The Government will:
- Defend the principle of a rules-based trading system, based on mutually binding agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- Work to ensure that regional and plurilateral trade agreements uphold fundamental standards, address climate and environmental considerations and safeguard workers’ rights, in line with the core conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which could also be incorporated into global trade agreements under the auspices of the WTO.
- Ensure that Norway plays a leading role in the international efforts to combat illicit financial flows and tax evasion.
- Promote robust, sustainable tax systems and support institution-building through the Tax for Development programme.
- Promote the development of an international convention on financial transparency.
- Support the establishment of international mechanisms to promote effective, fair handling of government debt crises.
- Strengthen the efforts of the Foreign Service to promote the Norwegian business sector abroad, in close cooperation with other relevant public agencies.
- Intensify efforts to promote Norwegian culture and business in the European and global markets.
- Promote the implementation of the ILO core conventions.
- Work to ensure that trade and investment agreements uphold the principles of national and local democratic governance and sovereignty over natural resources.