Meld. St. 12 (2010–2011)

Assistance to Norwegians abroad

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9 Looking ahead

In this white paper, the Government has sought to present the scope and nature of Norway’s consular services today. As mentioned at the beginning, the Foreign Service devotes considerable resources to consular activities. Other ministries and central and local government institutions and agencies also provide assistance in consular matters.

The demand for consular services is expected to increase in the years ahead. In order to prevent an even greater gap between the public’s expectations and the actual services offered to Norwegians abroad, it is important to foster general agreement on the extent of consular assistance that should be provided and who should be eligible for it. This is particularly important given the high level of interest in the consular field shown by both the general public and the media.

It should be absolutely clear that the Norwegian welfare state only covers Norwegian territory and that it is the legislation of the country concerned that applies to Norwegians when they are abroad.

In the Government’s view, consular assistance must continue to be based on the principles of individual responsibility and self-help. It is essential to have adequate travel insurance that covers all eventualities.

The Government will continue to give priority to acute and serious cases where human life or health is at stake, including cases that involve violations of human rights or minors.

The Government will seek to establish even closer consular cooperation with the other Nordic countries and with the EU in cases where this is considered appropriate.

Efforts to develop and mobilise support for multilateral agreements in the consular field will be continued. The possibility of entering into agreements concerning specific situations will also be considered.

Priorities in the various areas of consular assistance will be determined in accordance with the guidelines set out in this white paper.

The Government will seek to ensure that the consular services provided in different parts of the world are as equivalent as possible in comparable cases. This will, however, be difficult for both formal and practical reasons.

The Government will give higher priority to assisting Norwegians staying abroad for a short period than those who are permanently resident in another country.

Under the current rules, expenses incurred by the Foreign Service in connection with the provision of consular assistance are covered by the Norwegian authorities, whereas the individual covers his or her own expenses. This will continue to be the case. However, the Norwegian authorities will consider the possibility of claiming reimbursement of the expenses they have incurred in cases where the person concerned has shown gross negligence or where preventive considerations weigh heavily.

Assisting Norwegians abroad requires expertise in a number of different areas. Importance will be attached to continuing efforts to ensure that all employees working in the consular field have relevant, up-to-date expertise. Further measures will also be taken to improve the internal and interministerial coordination of the Norwegian authorities’ assistance to Norwegians abroad.

The Government will continue to give priority to providing professional, effective and efficient consular services to Norwegians.

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