Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Speech from the Throne by His Majesty The King on the occasion of the opening of the 156th session of the Storting The Storting, 3 October 2011

King Harald V of Norway

Translation from the Norwegian

Mr President, Representatives of the People,

I greet the Storting as it takes up its solemn responsibilities with the wish that the fulfilment of these duties will be of benefit to our country.

The terrorist attacks on 22 July targeted Utøya and the government offices in Oslo, but it was the whole nation that was attacked. The Norwegian people responded by rallying to the cause of democracy. Out of our shock and grief emerged a collective determination to maintain solidarity, openness and public participation. 

During the most critical hours and days Norway has experienced since the Second World War, its people took responsibility for defending our values, and showed the way forward. This has strengthened our democracy. But the tragedy will continue to mark both individuals and our society as a whole for a long time yet. 

This means that we must continue to mobilise the whole nation. Whether as individuals, as members of voluntary organisations, or as representatives of authorities at all levels, we must all help to heal the wounds and recreate a sense of security. 

A whole world has shown its sympathy with all those affected. People from all corners of the world have expressed their admiration for the dignity the Norwegian people have shown in the face of these atrocities.  

The Government will carry out a thorough review both of Norway’s preparedness before the attacks of 22 July and of the response afterwards. The report of the 22 July Commission will provide key input for this process. On the basis of the review, the Government will consider the need for extra resources and amendments to the legislation in various areas. 

Improvements in security arrangements and emergency preparedness will also be needed in the short term. Moreover, the 22 July attacks have entailed substantial unplanned expenses in a number of areas. The Government will revert to this later and submit a proposal for necessary adjustments in allocations in response to the 22 July attacks, in addition to the proposals that have already been put forward.

The Government will seek to find a balance between the need for adequate security and preparedness and the collective desire to maintain the close relationship between the Norwegian people and key actors in our society. 

The Government’s overall objective is to respect the will of the people, who want Norwegian society to become even more open, participatory and democratic. This means that the Government must demonstrate the same wisdom, humility and respect as the Norwegian people have done.

The Government is inviting the Storting and the Norwegian people, using democracy and freedom of speech as our weapons, to ensure that human dignity and security win over fear and hatred.
The aim of the Government’s policy is to:
  • ensure that Norway has the lowest rate of unemployment in Europe, and increase economic activity in all parts of the country;
  • protect, renew and improve one of the world’s best welfare societies;
  • ensure that Norway is at the forefront in the fight against climate change.
Employment for all is one of the Government’s main objectives. There is a great deal of uncertainty about global economic developments, and there has been considerable turbulence in financial markets over the summer. The Government is therefore following the situation closely. Our best policy is to make sure that we keep our own house in order, and to continue to pursue a fiscal policy designed to promote stable economic development in both the short and the long term.

The Government will continue its efforts to promote a good working environment and decent work. 

The Government will put forward an employment strategy that specially targets young disabled people.    
The Government will facilitate the further development of care services and follow up the agreement reached between the parties in the coalition government, the Christian Democratic Party and the Liberal Party on Care Plan 2015.

Implementation of the reform designed to improve coordination in the health sector will start on 1 January 2012. The reform is intended to give patients and other users better services locally.

The Government will present a white paper on drugs and alcohol policy.

We will develop the Norwegian welfare society further by ensuring that everyone has good opportunities to get an education. The Government will continue its efforts to encourage more people to complete their upper secondary education.

The Government will present a white paper on education for working in the welfare services.

The Government will give priority to the quality of research and continue to focus on the results of our research effort. 

The Government will facilitate further expansion of the services provided by the municipal sector.

The Government will present a white paper on a future-oriented housing and building policy.

The Government will present a white paper on the relationship between central and local government. 

The Government will present a white paper as a follow-up to the report from the Commission on the Protection of Privacy.

Using the agreement on the relationship between church and state as a basis, the Government will seek to ensure that the Church of Norway continues to be a vibrant, open church.

The Government will work towards the provision of more and more public services in digital form.
Norway will play an active part in efforts to make the Climate Change Conference in Durban in South Africa an important step on the way towards an ambitious global climate agreement with the broadest possible participation.

The Government will present a white paper on climate policy.

The Government will present a proposal on incorporation of the revised Emissions Trading Directive into the EEA Agreement and a bill on extension of the Norwegian emissions trading scheme to cover the period 2013–20.

Norway will be an environmentally friendly and leading energy nation. The production of renewable energy will be increased, and the transmission grid will be strengthened. 

The Government will present a white paper on development and expansion of the electricity transmission and distribution grid in Norway.

The Government will maintain oil and gas exploration activities, and facilitate access to areas of potential interest for the petroleum industry. One aim is to increase the proportion of the oil recovered from existing fields.

The Government’s aim is for Norway to be at the forefront of developments in carbon capture and storage.

A well-functioning transport system both on land and at sea is important for increasing wealth creation, for improving the quality of life, and for the goal of putting the whole country to use. In its follow-up of the National Transport Plan, the Government will work towards the goal of a safe and environmentally sound transport system that is available to everyone.  

The Government will pursue an active business policy in all parts of the country and focus on areas where Norway is particularly well placed as regards value creation.

The Government will draw up new strategies for the tourism and travel industry and the mineral industry. 

The Government will present a white paper on agricultural policy.

The Government will facilitate further development of the role of the seafood industry in value creation along the coast.

The Government will follow up the work of improving the emergency response system for acute pollution along Norway’s long coastline. 

The Government will, after a broad-based public consultation on Official Norwegian Report 2011:13 on the jury system, look thoroughly into all the important questions that arise in this connection. 

In 2012, the Government aims to present white papers on further development of the Police Service and on domestic violence.

The Government will pursue a consistent, fair asylum and refugee policy. Our refugee and asylum policy is based on international law. Norway’s practice will for the most part be in line with that of like-minded countries. The Government’s aim is that Norway should have balanced and controlled immigration.

The Government will present a white paper on how Norwegian society can be even more successful in integrating new immigrants in the years ahead. 

The Government is following up the cultural promotion programme Kulturløftet. Through the programme, we are improving quality and enabling more people to take part in cultural activities and in voluntary clubs and associations. 
The Government will put forward a proposal to phase out the cash benefit scheme for two-year olds and to increase the cash benefits paid to families with one-year old children.

The Government will present a new long-term defence plan to the Storting in 2012. The acquisition and phasing in of the new combat aircraft will be a central topic. 

The High North will continue to be the Government’s most important strategic foreign policy priority. The Government will further strengthen its High North policy in line with the white paper that is to be presented to the Storting later this autumn.

Norway will continue to support those who are fighting for democracy and economic development in the countries of the Arab world.

The main features of Norwegian foreign policy will remain unchanged, including our strong support for the UN and international law, our membership of NATO, the EEA Agreement and our status as a non-member of the EU. 

I pray that God will bless the deliberations of this Storting, and I hereby declare the 156th session of the Storting to be open. 

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