Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg: Need to see Renewed Growth in the EU

Oslo, 11 December 2012: Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg today met President Jose Manuel Barroso of the European Commission and President Martin Schulz at the European Parliament.

On Monday Dec 10th Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg hosted a working lunch for EU leaders who will be in Oslo to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony. The economic situation in Europe had been chosen as the theme for the working lunch.

Welcome to this informal lunch – and congratulations to all of you!

I think we are all deeply moved by today’s ceremony in Oslo Town Hall.

I welcome the Nobel Committee’s decision to award this year’s Peace Prize to the EU.

Europe has been transformed from a continent of war to a continent of peace.

You have helped former dictatorships towards democracy and prosperity.

Today is a day of celebration. And it is a day to look forward. Let us pay tribute to your achievements by also addressing Europe’s challenges.

“Europe has been transformed from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

The economic setbacks in Europe are a cause of serious concern. It is therefore encouraging to see that progress is made.

The EU has taken brave steps to rectify the situation.
Institutions are being reformed.
Policies are being changed on the basis of solidarity and sound economic management.

These efforts are now paying off. Economic imbalances in Europe are slowly declining.

Competiveness is increasing.
Deficits are being reduced.
The balances of payments are improved.

But economic growth is still weak. Unemployment is high and increasing.

And the character of the financial crisis is changing. What started as a crisis in the financial markets and in the banking sector has developed into a crisis in the labour market.

The fact that millions of people are without work is not only a human tragedy – it also represents a huge economic loss. Unemployment undermines future growth.

So the hard work must continue. Structural change is still needed. And this is urgent.

The challenge is to find the right balance between solidarity and responsibility.
Between growth and budgetary discipline.
We need both.

Norway is not a member of the European Union. But we are part of the European economy.

Norway is a small open economy, a close neighbour to the EU, and a member of the Internal Market. 80 per cent of our export goes to the EU. We are therefore very much affected by developments in Europe.

The future of Europe is the future of Norway.

The Norwegian Government and private companies are long-term investors in the European market.

We too need to see renewed growth in the EU.

We have stimulated our own growth by reforming the pension system, renewing the public sector, investing in education – and helping more women to enter the labour market.

These reforms have been based on social dialogue.

I am convinced that the current crisis also will make the EU and European integration stronger and more effective.

I look very much forward to hearing your views on these issues.

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