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Germany and Norway: Bilateral relations

07.02.2024 - Artikkel

German‑Norwegian relations are very close and amicable. The German occupation of Norway during the Second World War led to a profound rift in the traditionally very good relations between the two countries. Willy Brandt, who had lived in political exile in Norway from 1933 to 1940, played a key role in reconciling the two countries after the War.

Today, bilateral political relations are excellent. For Germany, Norway is an important partner in its role as the largest energy provider and when it comes to implementing the energy transition and addressing many international issues (for example, support for Ukraine). The Norwegian Government’s Germany Strategy, which is currently being updated, plays a major role in shaping bilateral relations. Norway regards Germany as its most important partner in Europe and a key country when it comes to its relations with the EU. As well as stepping up contacts between the two societies, the aim is increased cooperation with Germany with a view to defending multilateral institutions, international codes of conduct and free trade.

Germany was Norway’s third‑largest supplier after China and Sweden in 2022, with imports valued at more than 11 billion euro. Norway’s main imports from Germany in 2022 were motor vehicles (36% of all imported vehicles), machinery, and chemical and pharmaceutical products. In 2022, Germany was Norway’s largest export partner (exports from Norway to Germany totalling approx. 68 billion euro) and its major buyer of natural gas (approximately 58 billion euro). Norway has traditionally been a highly popular travel destination for Germans, who make up the country’s largest group of foreign tourists along with Sweden. Following greatly reduced travel activity in the previous years on account of restrictions owing to the pandemic, the number of overnight stays in Norway by German visitors rose again to just over 2.2 million in 2022.

The Norwegian‑German Willy Brandt Foundation, which was established in 2000, awards the annual Willy Brandt Prize for outstanding achievements in bilateral relations. In 2023, the Prize was awarded to the Borgund vidaregåande skole in Ålesund and the Münster Chamber of Crafts and Trade for their outstanding efforts to strengthen Norwegian-German ties in the area of vocational training.

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