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Why and How the EU and Norway Care

25/02/2008 // Our Most Burning Challenges, the climate change and energy security, were the topics for a conference in Oslo today, hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foregin Affairs and the Commission. The Commission President, Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso and Mr. Jonas Gahr Støre, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, were keynote speakers.

- Today’s topic is energy and the environment. The EU and Norway are working closely together here. Europe’s challenges are our challenges. I believe that in the areas where Norway has unique expertise and experience, we can make a real difference for Europe’s - and for the world’s approach to climate change, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said.

The conference gathered more than 600 people, and this is the first time a president of the Commission has made an official visit to Norway.

Norway is one of the EU's closest partners whose cooperation with the EU as a member of the European economic area is excellent. The main themes of the visit are energy security and climate change. All of Norway's gas exports go to the EU - it caters for 58% of the EU's energy imports.

This was Mr. Barroso's starting point in the speach:

- Henrik Ibsen once observed that a thousand words cannot make the mark a single deed would leave. So I am suitably humble about the direct contribution this speech will make to energy security and climate change. But when it comes to deeds, when it comes to action, both Norway and the European Union can hold their heads up high – as I will show, the President said.

He underlined that Norway has always been a natural partner for the EU, and the quite unique relationship:

"On the one hand, there is the legal, structured, institutional context. Norway is as integrated into EU structures as it is possible to be without actually being a Member State, and as such makes a very important contribution to the political life of the union.

On the other hand, there is the context of our international, multilateral co-operation. And here we cherish the support of Norway as a very close partner which shares our values and policy objectives across a range of issues, from development to the United Nations.

Our energy and climate change relationship is no less special. Norway is an essential gas supplier, for example, exporting all its produced gas to the EU.

It is also fundamental to our security of energy supplies. In fact, if all our external suppliers were as sure and reliable as Norway, energy security would be much less of an issue within the EU today!

Norway has an emissions trading system that is structured along the same lines as the EU's. The recent agreement by EEA countries, including Norway, to link up with the EU's emissions trading system sends a strong message to the rest of the world that linkage of such systems is achievable."

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"I have chosen to focus this speech on how our energy and climate change activities are strengthening the prospects of global action on energy and climate change. But there is plenty of scope to develop our bilateral energy and climate change relationship still further.

I could mention Norway's High North policy, which is of great interest to the EU. We clearly have a common interest in ensuring the environmentally sustainable exploitation of energy resources, and their reliable, safe and secure transportation.

I could mention the Arctic strategy report the EU will release by the end of this year, which I hope will interest Norway. This will give priority to Arctic-related issues, including the impact that climate change is having on the particularly vulnerable Arctic environment.

I could mention Norway's full membership of the Seventh Research Framework Programme, giving it an important role to play in the development of the science strategy to underpin key topics like climate change, carbon capture and storage and renewable energy.

Following the recent adoption of an European Integrated Maritime Policy, and the active participation of Norway in the making of this new policy, I would also like to propose the establishment of a regular and structured dialogue on maritime issues.

This could include collaborating on plans for the development of important areas such as offshore energy, safety of navigation, marine environment protection, marine spatial planning and marine research in general," the President said.

On the itinerary were also a meeting in Oslo with PM Jens Stoltenberg and other members of government, as well as the Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon, and the president of the Parliament, Mr Thorbjorn Jagland.

 


Source: Rune Bjåstad   |   Share on your network   |   print