Germany and Norway: Bilateral relations

01.03.2023 - Article

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 an 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 a 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. Norway is Germany’s most important energy supplier. 

Germany was Norway’s third‑largest supplier after China and Sweden in 2022, with imports valued at more than 11 billion euro. In 2021 Norway imported goods worth 9.3 billion euro from Germany, primarily motor vehicles (31%), machinery (16%) and chemical and pharmaceutical products (14%). Germany was Norway’s largest export partner and most important gas supplier (58 billion euro) in 2022 with exports totalling 68 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 the previous two years on account of restrictions owing to the pandemic, almost 1.4 million overnight stays by German visitors in Norway were recorded in the first seven months of 2022 alone. By way of comparison, there were just under 2 million overnight stays in 2019.

The Norwegian‑German Willy Brandt Foundation, which was established in 2000, awards the annual Willy Brandt Prize for outstanding achievements in bilateral relations. In 2022 the recipients were Professor Joachim Dorfmüller from Germany and Helga Arntzen from Norway.


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