About norwegian regional policy

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation is responsible for following up on the regional and districtrural political policy goals adopted by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget).

These goals are:

  • Preserve the distinctive features of Norway's the settlement pattern
  • Utilise the human and natural resources throughout the country in order to create the greatest possible national prosperity.
  • Ensure equal living conditions
  • Offer people athe freedom to settle whereever they choose

Regional policy and rural policy

While it is common to make a conceptual distinction between regional and rural policy, these concepts are in fact connected. Unambiguous definitions may not exist, but in general rural policy aims to compensate for differences arising from low population density, large distances and small local markets, in addition to other factors affecting growth and development which are distinct from those in the more central areas. The importance of these goals lies in ensuring an equal division of welfare and realising the potential for value creation potential in rural areas.

Regional policy encompasses all parts of the country, and aimst to stimulate both regional development and regional distribution. Rural policy is therefore considered to be part of regional policy. An important aspect of regional policy is ensuring that policies are suited to the challenges and assets of the each region.

Policy content

Regional and rural policy is commonly divided into two main categories.

1. Narrow regional and rural policy

This concerns the allocated rural and regional policy development funds that the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation is responsible for. These funds are, in part, intended to stimulate the potential for value creation in areas where market imperfections and geographic/demographic circumstances create challenges for growth and development.

The greater part of these funds are transferred to the county authorities, which are responsible for promoting value creation and regional development in their own counties. Important examples of narrow regional and rural policy measures include aid to companies withinthe rural policy area, the establishment of an action zone for Northern Norway, support for international cooperation initiatives at regional level, as well as providing support for efforts that aim to develop more attractive local communities in all parts of the country. The Government is particularly concerned that measures aimed at commerce and industry be prioritised.

2. Wide regional and rural policy

This concerns policies that arebeing put into effect in other policy areas at any given time. Such policies are part of regional and rural policy if:

  • A rural policy objective is part of its rationale
  • they  contribute to a balanced development of settlement patterns and living standards throughout the country
  • they stimulate competitiveness throughout the country

In other policy areas, the most significant instrument is the scheme for regionally differentiated social security contributions for employers. The municipal revenue system also plays an important role in achieving regional and rural policy goals.

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation also has a coordinating role. It is the ministry's responsiblity to ensure that the priorities of different policy sectors provide conditions conducie to regional and local development. An important part of the government regional policy is to improve the general conditions for business and industry. This is achieved through a stable taxation system, good infrastructure and access to labour with relevant skills, and access to capital. The specialist Ministries are responsible for the development and implementation of national policy in their respective sectors. The municipalities are responsible for ensuring equal service provision at a local level.

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation is also responsible for following up on  state localisation policy. A key argument for the localisation policy is that government workplaces contribute to the development of robust, regional labour markets in all parts of the country.