Bodø, Svolvær, Tromsø, Hammerfest and Kirkenes. These towns are on the itinerary for two members and eight political advisors from the European Parliament next week. Nils Kristian Sørheim Nilsen, Director at the North Norway European Office, expects the guests to be surprised at what they will see on tour in the Arctic.
- When the North is the topic of discussion in Brussels, everything is often tarred with the same brush. Northern Norway thus becomes victim of the myth of its being mostly icy and uninhabited, says Nilsen.
This issue is well known to him as well as his predecessor Trond Haukanes.
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Nilsen, who assumed his post as Director of the North Norway European Office last autumn, hopes he will be able to do something to bust that myth. During the whole next week, he is bringing two MEPs and eight political advisors for representatives in the European Parliament on an extensive study trip in Northern Norway.
Must increase knowledge
- We want them to be able to touch, feel and taste what is brewing in the region. Many will be baffled to experience our well-developed society and vibrant community and business life up close, he says.
During their five-day trip, the group is going cod fishing in Lofoten as well as visiting a.o. the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Bodø, the Polar Institute in Tromsø and the Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes. They will also meet with business leaders, MPs, county councilors and mayors.
- We want EU decision-makers to be familiar with business, climate and the enormous potential for sustainable growth that exist in North Norwegian communities. That will ensure decisions being made based on knowledge and experience, not myths of a desolate Arctic, the Director of the Brussels office says in a press release.
Will highlight the dependent relationship
Even though Norway is not a member of the EU, there are many decisions in the EU’s capital that affects North Norway.
Last January, the European Commission released a report mapping future needs for investment in the Arctic, based in input from actors in the region.
- We will therefore highlight the strong dependency already existing between the EU and Northern Norway. Many EU countries depend on fish, minerals, energy and other products we export. North Norway is directly involved in maintaining the EU’s energy and food security, says Nilsen.
The North Norway European Office was created in 2005 and is owned by the Nordland, Troms and Finnmark Counties. The office is tasked with promoting North Norway’s interest in the EU as well as contributing to North Norwegian communities’ being able to develop the opportunities that lie in the EU and EEA agreements.
Tromsø municipality, Salten Regional Council, Helgeland Regional Council, Norges Råfisklag [sales organisation for cod, small whales and shellfish], Nord University and the University of Tromsø – Norway’s Arctic University are among the Office’s cooperation partners.
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