Norway and the UK - an introduction

For more than a thousand years Norwegian and British ships have been crossing paths on trade routes over the North Sea. A rich exchange of language, culture and traditions has continued ever since and Norway and the UK are today close political allies and trading partners.

Shared values
Norway and the United Kingdom share views on many important political issues. They share a vision of a safer and more just world and cooperate closely in international organisations such as the UN. Both countries are world leading in development aid and have been at the forefront in granting debt relief to the poorest countries.

The relations between Norway and the UK are closely linked with the two countries' participation in European political and economic cooperation. Though not a member of the EU, Norway pursues an active European policy through the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Schengen cooperation.

Defence and security issues are other important elements of Norwegian-British relations. Both countries see NATO as the key to European and transatlantic security. British and other allied armed forces have long traditions for undertaking training on Norwegian soil and many Norwegian officers and civilians achieve part of their defence education and training in the UK.

Business and Trading Partners
The Norwegian-British cooperation has a particular focus on energy. In fact, almost half of British gas imports originate from the Norwegian continental shelf. Also about 70% of British oil imports come from Norway, and the UK is, alongside Germany, Norway’s largest and most important export market. More than 300 Norwegian companies are present in the UK, of which 100 are situated in Scotland. A large amount of these companies operate within the energy sector.

In 2012, Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, and his British counterpart David Cameron signed a joint declaration on sustainable energy cooperation in Oslo. Renewable energy, primarily wind power, is a priority area for Britain. The Norwegian companies Statkraft and Statoil, which both have a strong presence in the UK, are deeply involved in the further development of offshore wind power in the UK.

Norway and the UK are also important trading partners in more traditional commodities. Moreover, the UK is an important and growing market for the Norwegian tourism industry. The British were among the first tourists to Norway in the 19th century, and they continue to cross the North Sea to enjoy the spectacular beauty of Norwegian nature.

Cultural Exchange
Over the centuries, cultural influences have crossed the North Sea in both directions: From Henrik Ibsen, whose psychological dramas shocked and intrigued theatre-goers in 19th century London and still do today, to British pop and rock musicians who have been supplying the everyday soundtracks for generations of young Norwegians. While British artists have often sought the solitude and grandeur of the Norwegian landscape, Norwegian artists have been attracted to the hyper-urbanism of London and its varied and bustling art scene. Connexions, a cooperation between Norwegian and British jazz musicians curated by BBC's Fiona Talkington, has been hugely succesful, and so has 100% Norway, a design exhibition that for 10 years has brought the best of Norwegian design to the London Design Festival.

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