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A modest proposal to Norway’s Prime Minister for his opening remarks addressing EC President Josè Manuel Barroso

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Publish date: November 10, 2008

Written by: Paal Frisvold

BRUSSELS - Wednesday Novemeber 12th, at a quarter to one, surrounded by his ministries of Energy, Foreign Policy and Fisheries, the Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg will meet with the President of the European Commission Josè Manuel Barroso and his colleagues. In two hours time, they shall hold a photo session, eat a three course meal and give a press conference. The Prime Minister has to use his time effectively. Here is a proposal for his opening remarks that can ensure that Norway will be seen, heard and understood in the EU:

Good morning, Mr President, and thank you for taking the time to meet with us to discuss common challenges for the EU and Norway. Today, we would like to think of ourselves as part of a truly interdependent global family, confronted with a potentially devastating financial crisis, an unfinished trade agreement and the conundrum of needing more energy with far less emissions.

At the same time, the world has never been better prepared to turn these challenges into opportunities. We have institutional frameworks for governments to meet, share knowledge and combine forces to address the lack of global governance, of which the EU itself is a prime example. We also possess the technological solutions to spur economic growth while combating global warming. Hopefully, the new US leadership will accelerate multilateral cooperation to a level the world has never witnessed.

Mr President, in this spirit, Norway would like to build on our engagement for a united Europe, and bolster our position as constructive partner in these particularly challenging times. My government would like to propose a brand new EU-Norwegian Strategic Partnership. Allow me to highlight the main points that my colleagues will elaborate further on:

Firstly, with regard to Energy Supply, I am pleased to confirm that my Government has decided to ratify the Treaty on the European Energy Charter. By this gesture, and indeed legally contractual engagement, Norway is proud to bolster our long- term commitment as the EU’ s most intimate, predictable and politically stable supplier of energy.

Secondly, as a key exporter of fossil fuels to Europe and the world, Norway is keen to ensure the rapid up-scaling and deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage in Europe. I am therefore pleased to announce that my government is committed to fund one third of the total cost of the EU CCS Flagship programme announced at the ZEP General Assembly last Monday. This funding should be channelled through the EEA and Norwegian Financial Mechanism, currently under negotiation.

Thirdly, I am pleased to declare that Norway will embrace and take over the Commission’s Energy and Climate package, including the Renewable directive. Moreover, we would like to put forward Oslo as candidate for hosting the new International Renewable Energy Agency. If selected, we intend to construct a brand new building, a light-house in energy efficiency, close to our recently inaugurated Opera, at the disposal of the new Agency.

Lastly, but not least: As new global agreements are being drawn up, negotiated and hopefully adopted – in trade, financial architecture and climate change, Norway would like to establish a close alliance with the Commission and the EU Member States with regard to articulating common views and negotiating positions.  We shall promise to fully back EU negotiating positions in these fora providing they are preceded by reciprocal informal discussions. If successful, this format could also be considered in the context of the unresolved governance issues facing the High North and the Arctic.

I will stop here and hand the floor back to you, Mr President. Eager and anxious to hear your reactions to our aspirations, I hope you understand that we are willing to invest considerably in an intimate and constructive partnership with the EU, in order to ensure a stable, cleaner and better world.

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