Report | Date: 23/03/2018 | Office of the Prime Minister
Originally published by: The Office of the Prime Minister
Political platform for the Norwegian Government, formed by the Conservative Party, the Progress Party and the Liberal Party.
1 – Introduction
Sustainable welfare-based society
The aim of the Norwegian Government formed by the Conservative Party, the Progress Party and the Liberal Party is to ensure that people can live free and independent lives. The Government firmly believes that when you show confidence in people, they take responsibility. The Government will seek to unleash the creativity to be found in individuals, in the workplace, in families and in voluntary organisations. A good society is built from below. The Government will distribute power and enable individuals, families and local communities to manage their daily lives and shape their own futures. Only by building a fair and sustainable welfare-based society in which ability and effort count more than background and heritage can we ensure opportunities for all and give people the freedom to live their own lives.
A free society does not come about on its own. We are dependent on well-functioning communities, and common values and institutions such as the rule of law, protection of privacy, freedom of speech, mutual trust, independent media, the market economy, property rights and voluntary activities. The Government will defend these values and protect the institutions on which our society is based.
The Government will address the major challenges facing Norway, by:
- Restructuring the Norwegian economy in order to promote growth and job creation and ensure diversification.
- Fulfilling Norway’s climate commitments, thereby shouldering our share of the responsibility for combating climate change.
- Promoting an inclusive labour market. New technology offers significant opportunities for homesourcing, empowering people and enhancing efficiency, but at the same time poses challenges to existing jobs and creates a need for new skills.
- Ensuring that welfare schemes are effective. The fact that more people are living for longer is positive, but if we are to sustain our welfare system, we are dependent on more people remaining in employment for longer.
- Reducing poverty. Too many people are affected by poverty and marginalisation, and do not have the opportunity to create a good life for themselves.
- Significantly stepping up efforts to promote integration. International migration is unpredictable, and we need to maintain a high level of preparedness to be able to respond to sudden changes in the situation. We must be more successful when it comes to integrating immigrants into the labour market. This is vital both for the individuals concerned and for ensuring the sustainability of our welfare system.
The Government will make use of a broad set of tools to address the challenges facing Norway and build a sustainable welfare-based society. This will involve increasing value creation, creating more jobs and promoting the transition to a greener economy. Norway will fulfil its climate commitments, while ensuring that more people are able to find employment. We will work to safeguard our society and maintain a high level of social equality and trust. We will modernise the public sector so that we can further develop our welfare system. We need to act now; if we wait, we will simply face an even bigger bill in the future and it will be more difficult to ensure that Norway continues to be a country where everyone has the chance to succeed, can choose the direction of their lives, and can live in safety. The Government will safeguard public security by strengthening the police and modernising the Armed Forces.
More people in work. More jobs need to be created and more people need to be given the skills to fill them. The dropout rate in upper secondary schools must be reduced and greater priority must be given to vocational training and apprenticeships. More emphasis must be placed on knowledge generation, and research and development. The major effort to boost teaching skills must be continued. A new skills policy must be developed that takes account of technological advances and the changing labour market. Welfare-to-work schemes must be strengthened. The Government will launch a nationwide effort to promote inclusion and get more people into work. We must make everyday life simpler for responsible employers and take active steps to combat work-related crime. The Government will lower the overall tax level and reduce red tape, with a view to boosting employment and job creation throughout the country.
Transition to a greener economy. Norway will adapt its economy so that we are able to fulfil our climate commitments and protect our natural environment. We must draw on the latest knowledge, research and innovations to create large numbers of new jobs that can generate significant value. The new labour market must be green, smart and innovative. Norwegian companies are well placed to succeed in major new markets. To increase the opportunities open to them, we need to see greater investment in new green technology, we need to apply the polluter pays principle, and we need to develop markets for zero-emission technologies. We need to make it easier to set up new companies and more profitable to invest in Norwegian enterprises. Norway must diversify its economy to reduce climate-related risks.
Improving infrastructure throughout the country. Developing and maintaining infrastructure must continue to have high priority. Good infrastructure binds the country together, reduces the risk of accidents and deaths, and promotes value creation. The initiatives to improve roads, urban public transport and railways are vital for improving mobility and promoting growth throughout the country, and for combating climate change and making day-to-day life simpler for the general population and for the business sector. Expanding broadband coverage, and improving the trunk network and the fibre optic network between Norway and other countries will promote job creation all over the country and will strengthen public security.
Building a digital society. The public sector must be streamlined and more power must be given back to the country’s citizens. Efforts to promote innovation in the public sector must be strengthened. We must further increase the pace of digitisation in the public sector and strengthen cooperation between the public and private sectors to make everyday life easier for everyone. Schools and higher education institutions must prepare pupils and students for a digital future. Legislation must be adapted to take account of new digital solutions.
Opportunities for all. Norway is to be a country where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background. A high-quality education for all, a greater emphasis on improving skills, an integration policy with a stronger focus on getting people into work, more effective welfare-to-work schemes are all important in this context. Children who grow up in low-income families are to have the same opportunities and the same freedom to shape their own futures as other children.
A modern welfare system. The social safety net must be strengthened to ensure that fewer people are left behind and more people are able to improve their situation. The welfare system must be modernised in order for it to be sustainable. We must improve welfare services by adopting new and better ways of working, improving skills and expertise, and providing greater choice for the users. We must increase digitisation and improve efficiency to free up more time for providing care. We should seek to ensure a high standard of public health through prevention wherever possible and through treatment when necessary. Patient waiting lists still need to be reduced, and the reform of the child welfare services must be completed. We must continue to improve welfare services for the most vulnerable people in our society, particularly those with substance abuse or mental health problems. Norway is to be an age-friendly country. Elderly people who have lived long lives and are now in need of help must still be able to live meaningful and dignified lives. The initiative to reform elderly care must be implemented.
Reducing red tape. We must make room for innovation and creativity. The authorities must not regulate more than is necessary. The Government will remove unnecessary restrictions and regulations. Deregulation and new technology can help to make everyday life easier for people running businesses, for public employees and for the general population.
Enhancing security. Norway must be prepared to face new threats to public security. High priority must be given to ICT security. The local police reform must be implemented, the police must be further strengthened and their equipment upgraded. Norway must maintain a credible defence. Norway’s defence capabilities must be strengthened in accordance with the Long-term Defence Plan and the Proposition to the Storting on further developing the Army and the Home Guard (Prop. 2 S (2017–2018)).
Increasing diversity. Immigrants to Norway bring with them new ideas and cultural traditions. Diversity promotes creativity and innovation. Immigrants have contributed to economic growth in Norway and made us a more diverse nation. However, the Government is also aware of the challenges associated with immigration and integration. Whatever the reason for migration, the movement of a large number of people across our borders would pose challenges to Norway, not least to the sustainability of the Norwegian welfare state. It is therefore vital that we pursue a restrictive and responsible immigration policy that ensures due process. Norway will play an active role in seeking good solutions for the world’s refugees, both by providing assistance to refugees in areas close to conflict zones and by accepting refugees under the UN quota system. People who are granted legal residence in Norway will be welcomed in a good way. The Government will further develop its integration policy with a view to enabling more people to find work more quickly. The introduction programme for refugees must be made more effective. We must mobilise civil society in order to improve the integration of newcomers to Norway into daily life.
Promoting sustainable global development. In an increasing number of areas, developments in Norway are affected by changes beyond Norway’s borders. That is why a foreign policy that safeguards Norway’s interests and promotes international cooperation to address transnational challenges is essential for maintaining a sustainable welfare-based society. Climate change and other environmental problems, war and terrorism, the refugee and migration crisis, poverty and lack of development are all problems that cannot be solved by individual countries working alone.
Taking responsibility at the international level. Norway will shoulder its international responsibility and promote international cooperation, for example through NATO and the UN, and under the EEA Agreement. The Government wants Norway to be champion of international agreements, the international legal order, human rights and a free trade system that enables more countries to participate in the global economy and benefit from global economic growth. In the Government’s view, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an essential framework for meeting today’s most important global challenges. The Government will play an active role in implementing the SDGs, both internationally and in Norway. This will include following up our initiative to promote global education with the aim of ensuring access to education for all.
Promoting trade. An open economy and extensive international trade are crucial for Norway as a trading and export nation. The Government will work to strengthen Norway’s position as a leading maritime nation, secure access to export markets, attract foreign investments to Norway and position Norway as a leading nation for research and innovation.
This political platform describes how the Government will work to achieve these political goals. How far it succeeds in this will depend on the economic situation and the funds available.
17 – Foreign and development policy
The Government will pursue a foreign policy that is based on liberal values and will set clear foreign policy priorities. The primary aim of Norwegian foreign policy is to safeguard important Norwegian interests. Our foreign policy is designed to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to reduce international tensions, and to promote security and stability, peace and reconciliation, global free trade, economic development and respect for human rights. It also seeks to strengthen national security and economic growth and enhance our standard of living. The Government will work actively to provide appropriate assistance to Norwegian citizens and companies abroad.
The world around us has become more unpredictable. Fundamental values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law are under pressure, as are international institutions that regulate cooperation between states. It is in Norway’s interests to defend and maintain these values and institutions. The Government wants to see a world where there is greater respect for democracy and the principles of the rule of law. The Government will work to promote peace, democracy and development by championing human rights and the rule of law, and by raising awareness of the need to protect civil and political rights, including in our neighbouring areas.
The main features of Norwegian foreign policy will remain unchanged. Norway will be a predictable, reliable and credible partner. The Government will base its policy on binding international cooperation. Norway will play an active part in the UN, NATO, the WTO and other international organisations. The Government will maintain its cooperation with civil society in Norway in its efforts to achieve its foreign policy goals.
Norway’s closest ties, in terms of shared interests and values, will continue to be with the Nordic, European and Atlantic communities. The Government will also engage in global activities and seek to cooperate with new partners. However, changes in the political, economic and military balance of power make it essential to reinforce our commitment to the values and political orientation of our Western community of neighbours, allies and trading partners.
The Government will:
- Give priority to Norway’s neighbouring areas in its foreign policy.
- Maintain Norway’s close cooperation with the other Nordic countries.
- Pursue an active Arctic policy and strengthen cooperation both between the Arctic states and with the EU to prevent and limit natural and man-made disasters.
- Provide a good framework for building up viable local communities in Svalbard.
- Support efforts to modernise the UN and make it stronger and more effective.
- Target Norway’s efforts and financial support towards the parts of the UN system that deliver good results and whose work is in line with Norwegian priorities.
- Make use of international negotiations to promote Norwegian interests.
- Strengthen efforts to promote human rights, through international forums, development policy and support for civil society development.
- Give priority to efforts to promote civil and political rights, education, and women’s rights.
- Seek to strengthen international efforts to combat illicit financial flows, tax evasion, the black economy and corruption.
- Support international efforts to promote transparency surrounding capital investments and capital movements between countries, and support efforts to develop better tax principles for global companies.
- Cooperate with other countries in implementing economic and political sanctions in the event of serious and sustained violations of international law.
- Cooperate with vulnerable democracies on economic and democratic development, particularly in the Western Balkans and in Europe’s neighbouring areas.
- Strengthen international efforts to combat the illicit arms trade, drugs trafficking and human trafficking.
- Strengthen Norway’s peace and reconciliation efforts in areas affected by war and conflict.
- Support the International Criminal Court and work to ensure that more countries accept the Court’s jurisdiction.
- Take a balanced approach to the Middle East conflict, actively support the goal of a two-state solution that allows Israel and Palestine to exist side by side within secure and internationally recognised borders, and support democratic development in the Middle East.
- Maintain Norway’s efforts to ensure the continuation of nuclear clean-up programmes in Russia, and work to reduce the environmental threats from the Kola Peninsula.
- Be at the forefront of international efforts to clean the oceans of plastic, and work towards the goal of eliminating all marine litter.
The European countries and the EU are Norway’s close neighbours, friends and most important trading partners. Access to the internal market under the EEA Agreement ensures predictability for the Norwegian business sector and gives Norwegian companies the opportunity to sell their goods and services. This is vital for ensuring economic growth and welfare in Norway. This is why Norwegian foreign policy must begin in Europe. The Government generally takes a very positive view of binding international cooperation.
The EEA Agreement and Norway’s other agreements with the EU form the framework for Norway’s relations with Europe. The Government will work to improve the existing arrangements within the framework of the EEA Agreement and will pursue an active European policy aimed at increasing Norwegian influence over decisions that affect Norway’s interests.
It is vital to restore confidence in the management of Europe’s external border, and the Government will support EU efforts to find good solutions to common challenges relating to migration. The Government is of the view that Norway must contribute to these efforts. The development of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy also benefits NATO as an alliance. The Government takes a positive view of EU defence cooperation and will seek to ensure that third countries are able to participate.
The Government will:
- Participate in the development of common European solutions in the areas of justice and home affairs, migration, and climate change, and promote the implementation of joint climate policy within the framework of the EEA Agreement.
- Safeguard Norwegian interests by participating at an early stage in EU processes and the development of EU policy.
- Safeguard Norwegian interests in connection with Brexit through close dialogue with the EU and the UK.
- Actively support the EU’s policy to promote the rule of law in Europe.
- Seek to deepen bilateral relations with key European countries.
- Consider introducing measures to restrict the export of social security benefits, for example by working to promote acceptance in the EU of the need to adjust social security benefits in the various countries to take account of purchasing power differences.
- Ensure that the EEA and Norway Grants promote democracy, the rule of law and sustainable economic growth in Europe.
- Participate in formal and informal European forums, particularly those Norway has access to under the EEA Agreement.
- Strengthen coordination of the management of European issues across the government administration, with a view to ensuring that issues relating to Europe are dealt with effectively and to enhancing Norwegian participation in relevant processes.
- Involve the Storting at an early stage in important EEA processes.
- Follow up the Government’s proposal to the EU on strengthening efforts to combat work-related crime.
Norway’s security environment is changing. The situation in our neighbouring areas and in Europe’s neighbourhood has become more difficult, and a combination of traditional geopolitics and new, more unconventional challenges is further complicating the situation. Global developments are also affecting us more directly than they did in the past. The Government will give priority to promoting security and stability in Norway’s neighbouring areas. We must build our security through cooperation with others, based on our membership of NATO and our close transatlantic relations. The best way to safeguard peace and stability is to promote the broadest possible security policy cooperation.
In the area of disarmament, the main focus is currently on nuclear disarmament verification. The Government is seeking to work with other countries to develop concrete solutions that enhance the capacity of both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states to monitor the destruction of nuclear warheads. The Government’s aim is a world without nuclear weapons.
The Government will:
- Give priority to enhancing security and stability in Norway’s neighbouring areas in its foreign and security policy.
- Pursue a security and defence policy that helps to ensure that NATO continues to be a strong and credible alliance and enables Norway to remain a predictable, reliable and credible ally.
- Seek membership of the UN Security Council for the period 2021-2022.
- Further strengthen our transatlantic relations and our cooperation with key European allies and partners.
- Further develop Norway’s dialogue with the EU on security policy issues, and seek to participate actively in EU security and defence policy forums.
- Maintain a strict, clear and stable regulatory framework for exports of weapons and ammunition that ensures predictability for Norwegian manufacturers. The Government will participate actively in international arenas to build agreement on developing standard formats and guidelines for end-user documentation and re-export certificates.
- Cooperate with allies on intensifying efforts to achieve balanced, mutual, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
- Further develop Norway’s leading international role in the area of nuclear disarmament verification, with a view to ensuring genuine disarmament and increasing confidence in disarmament agreements.
- Strengthen efforts to enforce the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions and encourage more countries to ratify them. Norway should play an active part in the clearance and destruction of cluster munitions.
- Give priority to efforts to combat new global security threats such as terrorism, organised crime, irregular migration, cyber threats and disinformation activities.
According to most indicators, the world is making progress. Large population groups continue to be lifted out of poverty, and more and more people are learning to read and write. However, we still face many significant challenges, the greatest of which are climate change, terrorism, war, environmental threats and poverty. The aims of the Government’s development policy are to save lives, promote democracy and human rights, and contribute to lasting poverty reduction. If we are to achieve sustainable poverty reduction, we must find solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges.
The Government will base its policy on the principle that universal rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of belief, and private property rights, apply to all people. The Government will work to combat violence and oppression, and will give priority to vulnerable groups such as women, children, religious minorities, people with disabilities and sexual minorities. Efforts to safeguard the right to education, particularly for girls, must continue. .
The Government will pursue an effective, knowledge-based development policy. The core international human rights instruments and the SDGs will provide the overall framework for Norway’s development efforts. When it comes to the SDGs, the Government will focus on the specific areas where Norway is well placed to make a difference. A long-term approach is important, and the Government will maintain its efforts in areas where Norway already plays a global role.
The Government will seek to ensure that Norwegian aid efforts are effective, and will retain the goal of allocating 1 % of Norway’s gross national income (GNI) to development aid. However, ensuring that Norway’s overall development policy is effective is more important than the size of the aid budget. The aim must be to help recipient countries become independent of aid in the long term. The Government will therefore promote more effective use of resources and the best possible division of responsibilities between the various actors involved. The willingness of national authorities to promote development and take ownership of development processes is a condition for receiving aid from Norway. Robust institutions, economic and political transparency, a strong civil society, the division of power and a well-functioning state based on the rule of law are the keys to economic development in all countries. In addition, an equitable distribution of resources helps to ensure that economic development benefits everyone, including the poorest sections of society.
The Government will:
- Seek to ensure policy coherence for development; Norway’s efforts are to be guided by the SDGs and our various initiatives must, as far as possible, pull in the same direction, in line with the white paper on the Sustainable Development Goals and Norwegian development policy, Common Responsibility for Common Future (Meld. St. 24 (2016–2017), as approved by the Storting.
- Seek to ensure that Norway’s humanitarian efforts are effective and that support reaches the people with the greatest needs and those affected by forgotten conflicts and disasters.
- Set clearer requirements for recipients of Norwegian aid as regards progress in the areas of democracy, civil society development, anti-corruption efforts, the development of the rule of law and human rights, and their willingness to balance public budgets.
- Give priority to capacity building, knowledge transfer and technical assistance to partner countries.
- Use development aid in a way that also triggers private resources, promotes the achievement of the SDGs and contributes to the creation of decent jobs in developing countries.
- Reform the way Norwegian development cooperation is organised, including the division of roles between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norad and other actors, with a view to ensuring knowledge-based and effective aid efforts.
- Facilitate voluntary aid efforts through humanitarian organisations.
- Use Norway’s position, for example as a donor, to secure return agreements with more countries.
- Refrain from supporting organisations in Palestine that incite violence or encourage hate speech, racism or anti-Semitism.
- Promote business development and job creation in low-income countries, and give particular priority to cooperation with low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa with which Norway has concluded cooperation agreements.
- Increase trade with poor countries. Promote trade facilitation and imports from developing countries.
- Make it easier for Norwegian companies to engage as partners in development cooperation, and seek to negotiate tax agreements with as many relevant countries as possible to avoid double taxation.
- Further develop Norway’s global leadership role in promoting high-quality education for all.
- Strengthen Norway’s global health efforts, particularly in the areas of vaccines, child health and sexual and reproductive health.
- Continue to promote civil society development and good governance in developing countries.
- Continue Norway’s broad-based efforts to combat climate change and protect the rainforest, and intensify efforts to protect the environment and fight environmental crime.
The Government’s goal is to minimise red tape and make it as easy as possible for Norwegians to visit or live in other countries, particularly EEA countries, and to return to Norway after a stay abroad.
The Government will:
- Provide assistance to Norwegian citizens and businesses abroad and provide effective consular services.
- Review the customs duties and taxes that Norwegians have to pay when they move back to Norway.
- Continue the work to develop a joint digital ID system for Nordic citizens.
- Simplify the process by which marriages between Norwegians and other EEA citizens are recognised in Norway.
- Maintain support for the Norwegian Church Abroad.