Article | Last updated: 18/08/2014
Meetings of the Norwegian Council of State are generally held on Fridays at 11:00 at the Royal Palace in Oslo.
Meetings of the Council of State are generally held on Fridays at 11:00 at the Royal Palace in Oslo.
Before matters are presented in the Council of State, they are discussed at the latest at the government conference the preceding day. Therefore there is no discussion of matters in the Council of State, but the King may ask questions.
Each matter is divided into two parts: a presentation, in which the minister provides a written account of the matter in the form of a government memorandum and his or her assessment of it, and a recommendation on behalf of his or her ministry.
In meetings of the Council of State, the King asks each minister in turn whether his or her ministry has any matters for the Council of State. Those who do, present the matter(s). When the King has given his approval, the decision is made. The minutes of each meeting of the Council of State are signed by the King and all the members of government who took part. As a general rule, the King is not familiar with the matters until they are presented to him, but the Prime Minister has monthly meetings with the King on matters of principle.
What matters are dealt with in the Council of State?
According to Article 28 of the Constitution, matters of importance shall be dealt with in the Council of State, i.e. they are decided by Royal Decree. The main significance of this procedure is that formally, matters submitted to the Council of State are dealt with by the entire Government, not just the minister responsible for making a decision in the matter concerned. It also means that matters dealt with in the Council of State are automatically subject to parliamentary scrutiny as the Storting reviews the minutes of the Council of State.
Examples of important matters mentioned in the Constitution are appointments to senior official posts in the civil service and pardons. Other matters dealt with in the Council of State are legislative bills, appropriation bills, reports to the Storting (white papers), sanctioning of legislation passed by the Storting, provisional ordinances and matters in which the King has statutory decision-making authority.
Apart from this, the question of what matters are to be considered to be so important that they must be dealt with in the Council of State is a matter of discretion. The conclusion of agreements with other countries or international organisations may be one such matter. Decisions concerning the delegation of the King’s authority must be made in the Council of State. New permanent boards and councils are often appointed by Royal Decree. The same applies to appeals against individual decisions taken in the first instance by a minister in his or her ministry, unless the right of appeal is excluded by statute or regulations.
Generally speaking, the number of matters dealt with in the Council of State has declined in recent years, partly because fewer civil service posts are classified as senior official posts and because in many areas the decision-making authority has been delegated to a lower level.
The Secretary to the Government, who is the administrative head of the Office of the Prime Minister, serves as secretary of the Council of State.