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Committee visit Norway to compare scrutiny of international agreements

1 November 2022

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee visited Norway on 25-27 October to learn more about Norway’s approach to the scrutiny of international agreements, as part of its current inquiry into this topic.

The Committee met with members of the Norwegian Government and Parliament (Stortinget), as well as academics and representatives of industry groups and trade unions. Under discussion was how each stakeholder provided input into international treaty-making and scrutiny, as well as the similarities and differences with the political processes and culture in the UK.

Meetings were held with:

  • Norwegian State Secretaries for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Erling Rimestad and Anne Marit Bjørnflaten, on how the relationship between the Norwegian Government and the Storting operates for international agreements.
  • First Vice President of the Storting, Svein Harberg, on how the Storting carries out its business and the role of committees in holding the Norwegian Government to account.
  • Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Business and Industry, Per Vidar Kjølmoen, on how that Committee feeds into trade negotiations to ensure deals reached can be agreed to by the Storting. We also discussed the strong trading relationship between the UK and Norway.
  • Several members of the Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs, on treaty scrutiny and ratification, similarities and differences between the Norwegian and UK political systems, and relations between the Norwegian Government and the Storting.
  • The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence (Chaired by former Foreign Minister, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide) on the role their Committee plays when Norway is conducting international negotiations and in scrutinising international agreements ahead of a parliamentary vote for ratification.
  • Professor Inge Lorange Backer, on the different ways international agreements are given effect in Norwegian law, and the aspects of Norway's arrangements for international agreement scrutiny that could be useful to the UK.
  • Representatives of Norwegian industry groups and trade unions to discuss how they are consulted and feed into Norwegian international agreements at the negotiation and ratification stages, both formally and informally.

The Committee on Twitter put on record its thanks to the UK Ambassador to Norway, Richard Wood, and his staff at the British Embassy in Oslo for facilitating the visit and providing “invaluable insight into the Norwegian political system and culture”.

Further information

Image: PA