Norway since 1905

The union with Sweden was formally brought to an end by the Karlstad Conventions of September 1905. After much discussion regarding Norway’s future form of government, the Storting opted for a constitutional monarchy; Danish prince Carl was selected as king and ascended the throne as King Håkon VII (d 1957) in November 1905. His English wife, daughter of Edward VII, became Queen Maud. King Håkon has since been succeeded by his son Olav V (1957-1991) and most recently by his grandson, the present King Harald V.

In the years immediately following the dissolution of the union the Norwegian economy underwent rapid growth as electrochemical and electro-metallurgical industries were built up, hydro-electric power was harnessed and new products appeared on the market. Population grew rapidly and unemployment fell.

On the outbreak of World War I Norway declared its neutrality, but between 1914 and 1917 the country was blockaded and heavy losses were sustained by the Norwegian merchant fleet on account of the U-boat war and mining of the seas. Norway was subsequently hit hard by the worldwide economic downturn of the 1920s; banks crashed, purchasing power plummeted along with industrial production and prices, and unemployment became widespread. However, by the mid 1930s economic recovery was once more under way.

Although a member of the League of Nations since 1920, Norway again proclaimed its neutrality on the outbreak of World War II in 1939. However, the country was attacked and occupied by German forces in April 1940. The royal family, the government and some of the heads of the Ministry of Defence and civil administration left for Britain along with withdrawing allied troops, where a Norwegian government-in-exile was set up. Throughout the war the Norwegian merchant fleet of more than 1,000 ships was placed at the disposal of the Allies.

Reconstruction of the ravaged Norwegian economy was given top priority after World War II and the years since 1945 have been marked by steady progress in the development of Norwegian trade and industry. In particular, the discovery of significant oil deposits beneath the North Sea during the 1960s has turned Norway into one of the world’s major oil-producing nations.

Norway joined the United Nations in 1945 (Norwegian statesman Trygve Lie was appointed as the UN’s first Secretary General from 1946 to 1954) and NATO in 1949.

Norway and the EU

Norway has twice held a referendum on joining the EU, in 1972 and 1994, and both times a majority of the population voted against membership. However, today Norway co-operates closely with the EU in most areas. Although opinions are divided, there is general agreement at political level that Norway should be an active and constructive co-operation partner.

Norway’s most important form of association with the EU is the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA), which entered into force in 1994. Under this Agreement Norway and the other EEA countries are part of the EU internal market. This means that Norwegian businesses and nationals are entitled to the same treatment as businesses and nationals of EU states throughout the EEA in areas covered by the Agreement. It also means that Norway participates in the drafting of EU legislation in areas relevant to the internal market, such as transport and the environment, and is bound by such legislation. Norway also participates in EU programmes in a large number of areas, such as culture, research, regional policy co-operation and education.