Last updated in March 2018
German-Norwegian relations are very close and friendly. This is reflected in the two countries’ broad agreement on many international issues and their common approach in areas such as foreign and security policy, environmental and energy policy and humanitarian aid. Norway also has high expectations of Germany as a champion of Norwegian interests within the European Union. Regular consultations are held at all levels. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Norway in February 2013. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg last visited Germany in July 2017 to attend the G20 Summit. Germany’s then Federal President Joachim Gauck paid a state visit to Norway in June 2014. Norway appreciated the great show of sympathy by the German public following the terrorist attacks of 22 July 2011.
The German occupation of Norway during the Second World War led to a profound rift in the traditionally very close relations between the two countries, and for a long time the Norwegian side continued to harbour considerable misgivings towards Germany. 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. Even prior to reunification, Germany had regained its role as one of Norway’s most important partners in Europe.
When the Cold War and the division of Germany were over, Norwegian policymakers began to look more and more towards Germany. The Norwegian Government’s German Strategy, which was adopted in 1999 and last updated in spring 2014, reflects Norway’s efforts to “rediscover its close neighbour Germany”, in particular with a view to stepping up contacts between the two countries’ civil societies. This includes promoting the German language, an aim shared by both sides.
Over 60 percent of Norway’s total exports go to European Union member states, while over 45 percent of Norway’s imports come from EU countries. Norway’s largest trading partners are the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States.
In 2017, Norway imported goods worth approximately 8.7 billion euros from Germany (primarily motor vehicles, machinery and chemical and pharmaceutical products), putting it in 30th place among Germany’s export destinations. German exports of motor vehicles to Norway currently account for approximately one third of total German exports to the country.
In 2017, Norway’s main exports to Germany, besides oil and gas, were fish, chemical products and aluminium goods for the German automotive industry. Norwegian exports to Germany totalled approximately 14.6 billion euros in 2016, putting Norway in 20th place among the largest suppliers of imports to Germany.
Oil and gas exports
Norway is Germany’s second most important supplier of energy. Some 42 percent of Western Europe’s conventional oil and gas reserves belong to Norway. Norway’s oil and gas exports account for approximately 15 percent of the country’s GDP, but that number has been declining due to lower oil prices. Oil and gas products make up some 34 percent of Norway’s total exports. In 2017, gas production on the Norwegian continental shelf continued to rise, increasing 6 percent to 124 billion cubic metres. During the same period, oil production decreased slightly, falling 2 percent to 1.59 million barrels of oil per day.
Norway has traditionally been a highly popular travel destination for German tourists, who make up the largest group of foreign visitors, ahead of Swedes, Danes, Britons and the Dutch. Every year, there are approximately 1.5 million overnight stays by German visitors in Norway.
Cultural relations and education
Germany and Norway have a long tradition of cultural relations. Prominent figures such as Edvard Munch, Edvard Grieg and Henrik Ibsen spent many years in Germany, and today there is also a lively exchange in both directions, as evidenced by joint German-Norwegian exhibitions and appearances by Norwegian and German artists in the partner country. The Norwegian media also cover outstanding German art events.
The bilateral agreement to convert the Max Tau German School in Oslo (DSO) into a German-Norwegian International School entered into force on 19 July 2011. DSO students can obtain both the German International Abitur and the Norwegian university entrance qualification.
Every year since 2007, the German-Norwegian Youth Forum (DNJF), which was founded in 2006, has made it possible for around 100 young people from the two countries to get to know the partner country by participating in joint projects. In 2016, the German-Norwegian Youth Forum celebrated its tenth anniversary on the European Day of Languages. An official ceremony marking the occasion was held at the Nordic Embassies in Berlin, and included among its speakers the Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth. More detailed information is available on the DNJF website: wwww.dnjf.org.
The Norwegisch-Deutsche Willy-Brandt-Stiftung, which was established in 2000, also seeks to foster cultural and political relations. Every year, it awards the Willy-Brandt-Preis for outstanding achievements in bilateral relations. In 2016, the prize went to the Norwegian dramatist and author Jon Fosse and the German translator and cultural mediator Julia Stöber. The awards ceremony was held on 8 December in Oslo in the Norwegian parliament, the Storting.
The art exhibition entitled “Dahl and Friedrich – Romantic Landscapes”, which was on show at Norway’s National Gallery from October 2014 until January 2015 and at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden from February until early May 2015, is a successful example of an outstanding bilateral museum project.
The work of the Goethe-Institut in Oslo focuses on promoting literature and, in its language work, on providing further training for Norwegian teachers of German. The only German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) lector in Norway works at the University of Bergen.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its Contents.