5 The High North Strategy, Cooperation and Cross-Border Transport
The Arctic is Norway’s most important foreign policy priority. Foreign and domestic policy are intertwined in the region. Infrastructure is among the five priority areas set out in the Government’s Arctic policy.
The development of the transport system in the North should contribute to regional development in the entire Barents region and create new opportunities for key industries. The transport system will be developed in an environmentally sustainable manner, with an emphasis on safety and accessibility for all. Bottlenecks, high-risk sections and connections with a poor standard are to be improved.
There are several major infrastructure investment projects in the North that have priority in the National transport plan 2018–2029, and which will shorten travel times significantly. However, for the users of the transport system the reliability of roads or railways is also of great importance. Operation and maintenance of the infrastructure, sufficient capacity on ferries, open mountain passes and reliable air services at the regional airports are among the prioritised measures. The objectives for the transport system in the North are the same as for the rest of the country, but in addition, more attention is put on cross-border connections and extensive international cooperation.
The Barents Euro-Arctic Transport Area is working for better connectivity between Sweden, Finland, Russia and Norway. The first version of the Joint Barents Transport Plan in 2013 established a network with the most important cross-border relations between the countries. The document, with its particular emphasis on the transport networks, is of great benefit to national and regional transport planning and contributes to a holistic and balanced approach for the development of cross-border transport connections. It is expected that a new and updated version of the Joint Barents Transport Plan will be finalised during 2017. The follow-up work on the Joint Barents Transport Plan is carried out nationally through planning processes and budget priorities. For the planning and development of specific cross-border connections the most appropriate format is bilateral cooperation.
The port and fairway project Longyearbyen
Svalbard is a community in transition. Mining has long been the core business of the archipelago, but in recent years the falling coal prices have led to a sharp reduction in activity. To maintain Norwegian settlements on Svalbard increased activity in other sectors is therefore needed. Improvement of the port facilities may stimulate tourism and the creation of new business opportunities. A study from the Norwegian Coastal Administration recommends a new floating dock in concrete with a terminal building to handle the increasing number of cruise ships, as well as other types of vessels. The Government has set aside 300 million NOK to finance this project.
TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Network)
Norway’s participation in TEN-T is regulated through the EEA Agreement. The part of the TEN-T network called «The Nordic Triangle» is the most interesting for Norway, as it includes the Norwegian infrastructure connections between Norway and abroad. On the Norwegian side, the Nordic Triangle includes the Norwegian rail route from Oslo to Sweden via Kornsjø, the road route E6 from Oslo to Sweden via Svinesund, the Oslofjord connection, the railway connection with Sweden via Kongsvingerbanen and the E18 road connection to Sweden. Other parts of Norway’s infrastructure are also classified as TEN-T networks, without this having any economic benefit or cost for Norway. However, Norway must adhere to EU requirements for the network, such as the requirements stated in the Tunnel Directive and the Euro Vignette Directive.
Norway participates in TEN-T through the EEA Agreement. The new revised TEN-T guidelines were incorporated in the EEA Agreement in October 2015. Norwegian infrastructure in both the Comprehensive Network and the Core Network must meet the requirements set forth in the TEN-T methodology. Norwegian infrastructure is also part of the TEN-T Core Network Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor.