onsdag 20. februar 2013

The EU Delegation's Journalist Award - An opportunity for those with an interest in Europe

Reporters Without Borders has recently ranked Norway, alongside Finland, at the top of their Press Freedom Index. I find it both important and admirable that in Norway, 63% of the population (9-79 years) read a printed newspaper on a daily basis. That puts Norwegians among the most eager media consumers in the world. No wonder that young people find journalism studies quite attractive.

Despite my shortcomings as far as the language is concerned, I also read the Norwegian press every day. No surprise, I have particular interest in articles which depict contacts and cooperation of Norway with the countries of Europe, notably of the European Union. The best of these pieces speak about both huge benefits and inherent complexity, helping us to understand the dynamics of our rapidly changing continent and the place of Norway within it.

It is the second year now that we offer the EU Delegation's Journalist Award to inspire articles about Europe (not only the EU), the common values and destiny of our continent as well as about examples of European cooperation. This obviously includes the difficulties we currently face and the efforts to overcome them. Personal accounts and impressions could be especially valuable. With the short distances, common culture and extensive economic relations hundreds of thousands of people study, work and live in another European country.  

The EU Delegation's Journalist Award is for journalists (and students of journalism) in the age between 18 and 28 years. They are encouraged to submit to the Delegation articles which will be assessed by an independent jury. The prize for the best article is a travel gift card of NOK 20 000, to be used in any country within the European Union.

The submission deadline is 14. March.

torsdag 20. desember 2012

Nobel Days Reverberations

We have some working days left between the Nobel events and the end-of-the-year holidays. Sending out greetings, working in the EU Delegation, we can not avoid referring back almost every hour to what were truly our "days of glory", earned through hard work.
I'd like to express our appreciation to all who transmitted congratulations to us on the occasion of the EU winning the Nobel Peace Prize. We are grateful to all, who expressed sympathy, who contributed to the wonderful atmosphere reigning at the different venues and on the streets of Oslo. This served as an important source of inspiration to our leaders and contributed to the elevated spirit felt all over the main events. For me, the Award Ceremony was one of the best I've seen. As the Norwegian press wrote, there was solemnity, tears and laughter. If I may add: all three at the same time.

The European Union came here as a worthy winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a close and well-known friend. Oslo was in these days the true capital of Europe (to borrow words pronounced at the fantastic concert, concluding the celebrations.)

This Delegation has existed for slightly more than 20 years, but it has never had to manage anything comparable to the Nobel programme and the visit of the large EU group attending. It happened for the first time that the Presidents of the three main EU institutions travelled abroad together, as part of one group. They were accompanied by the Presidents of most other EU institutions as well as several Vice-Presidents of the European Commission. A very high number of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Member States of the European Union attended the Award Ceremony.

In the last seven weeks there was only one rule for us in the EU Delegation to follow: the daylight was becoming shorter and the working day longer. There were of course tensions and moments of quiet desperation. Nevertheless, looking back, everything went surprisingly smoothly. This is mainly due to the admirable job done by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the Nobel Institute and the staff of the different Norwegian ministries. We got solid support from Brussels. Finally, I can not avoid adding that the occasion has helped me to discover and admire the real capacity of many colleagues in the EU Delegation too.

Obviously, this has been a once-in-a-carrier experience for me, something to remember and echo. I do not have a grandchild as yet (and this is not in my immediate plans). Imagine what I'll tell him/her, in years from now, celebrating a future Christmas, about December 2012.  Be aware that the distance of time embellishes things even more…

fredag 19. oktober 2012

A fantastic week

A week has passed since the Nobel Peace Prize Committee decided awarding this year's prize to the European Union. What a fantastic week this has been for me and many colleagues in Oslo and Brussels!

We have been working closely with the institutions in Brussels, clarifying the way the European Union will receive the Prize and participate in the series of event related to it. You see that some important decisions have already been taken and the three presidents of the EU institutions (European Council, Commission and Parliament) all will come to Oslo. 

The press and many people keep asking me whether I had anticipated the EU to win the Prize this year. Yes, I have always thought that one day this would happen, simply because the European Union has done and does as much as anybody for peace, reconciliation and development in Europe and in the world.

Nevertheless, this year's decision came as a surprise to us; therefore it has been even more gratifying. Clearly, the EU gets the Prize in difficult and testing times. I expect that it will become an important source of inspiration for our future efforts.

I see that in Norway and elsewhere in Europe there is a broad and interesting debate about the Committee's decision and its impact. We have got a lot of messages of congratulation (sent to the Delegation or to me), highlighting the merits of the EU getting the Prize. I'd like to use also this blog to thank all those who have passed on their good wishes to us.

fredag 22. juni 2012

Euro 2012

After yesterday's Euro 2012 game, all seven remaining teams represent EU-countries. Six of them are in the euro-zone, including the South - Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

It is nice to see, even if for just a moment, that the crisis is not all-pervading.

onsdag 20. juni 2012


There are interesting statements to follow, as the G20 meeting concludes in Mexico.
It might be worth to reflect on the answer given by President Barroso to questions of a Canadian reporter: "Frankly, we (Europeans) are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy or in terms of how to handle the economy… Seeing as you mention North America, this crisis originated in North America and much of our financial sector was contaminated by, how can I put it, unorthodox practices, from some sectors of the financial market." 
I also listen to Prime Minister Stoltenberg stressing that the crisis took a long time to develop and it will also take time to get out of it. It might affect everybody, even Norway, which has a robust and prosperous economy. 
Then I get the release from Brussels quoting Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso, as they resume the main message taken from Los Cabos:  "Our partners have recognised that a strong, deeply integrated European Union is decisive for systemic global stability. We must fully acknowledge how interdependent we are in today's global economy. There is no other alternative for the world's leading economies than to work closely together, increasing joint understanding and global economic governance."
I know nothing is simple about this crisis. Nevertheless, acknowledging interdependence and the need for a sustained global effort are important notions.

tirsdag 12. juni 2012


Defying some of the airport snag, I spent a day and a half in Karasjok for a series of meetings in the framework of the regular dialogue we have with representatives of the Sami people. I was received by Mr Egil Olli, President of the Sami Parliament and I had meetings with representatives of the Sami Council, of Finnmarkseiendommen, of Landsorganisation Sami Duodji as well as with reindeer herders and salmon fishermen. I also gave an interview to NRK.

This journey to Finnmark served one purpose: to understand better how things look like from the Karasjok angle and convey this picture to Brussels. So I went there to see, to listen and to learn.

Finnmark is about sustaining traditions in vast spaces and extraordinary circumstances. Nevertheless, many of the EU's policies and decisions have an impact also there, either through their incorporation into Norwegian law or due to intense cooperation with the neighbouring territories of EU members Finland and Sweden.

Specific issues treated during my visit included marketing of reindeer meat and duodji products, fisheries management and protection of the environment. We discussed the EU's Arctic Policy, its contribution to cooperation and application for observer status in the Arctic Council. We talked about the Sami Parliament's project to develop the Sami language - which gets significant EU financial support. With Mr Olli, we also spoke about the plan to convoke a world conference of indigenous peoples under the auspices of the United Nations in 2014.

torsdag 31. mai 2012

EEA Anniversary – Internal Market

In May we've had several events in Oslo and Brussels marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of the EEA Agreement; although I know these might have been somewhat overshadowed by other news related to the EU. 

Therefore it is even more important for me to highlight the excellent conference organised by NUPI, dedicated to the occasion. This brought about a discussion not only dealing with the impact of the EEA but also with its future (in light of the report "Inside and outside"). When it comes to the EU Delegation, we have dedicated part of this year's Europe Day celebration to the EEA. Furthermore, the EEA Council, held 14 May, noted the 20th anniversary and recognised the value of the Agreement as a durable instrument ensuring the smooth functioning of the EEA. 

As you know, the EEA Agreement provides for the full participation of Norway and of the other EEA EFTA countries in the internal market. So it is very pertinent to note that later this year we'll mark another 20th anniversary: that of the establishment of the internal market. This will be an occasion for us to analyse how the internal market has influenced the evolution of our economies and also the potential of further developing this market. Doing so will have particular importance in the present circumstances, when the EU's primary aim is to promote growth by (among other means) progressing towards completing the internal market. The Delegation will inform about its related plans (concerning events in Oslo) soon.