ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, renewable energy cooperation, bacalhau agreements and oil topped the agenda during a three-day state visit to Portugal by King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway.
The royal couple arrived on the Norwegian royal yacht Norge on Monday evening at Cascais before setting out to meet President Cavaco Silva and his wife Maria at the Torre de Belém on Tuesday morning.
After reviewing GNR and military Guards of Honour, the royal couple were taken to the Jerónimos Monastery where the King laid a wreath at the tomb of Luís Vaz de Camões.
“We hope that the royal visit to Portugal will result in a cooperation agreement in renewable energy sources such as wind and wave power,” said the Norwegian Secretary of State for Energy and Oil, Liv Monica Stubholt.
On Wednesday, King Harald attended a seminar on renewable fuels and energy at the Hotel Pestana Carlton Place in Lisbon where air and wind energy once again topped the agenda, Norway being interested in learning and cooperating with Portugal due to Portugal’s wide experience in that area.
Norway, in 1905, was one of the poorest countries in Europe but today is one of the richest countries in the world with an average salary of 4,500 euros per month.
The discovery of oil in the North Sea off Norway has been the driving force behind that wealth for a country which has a small population of only 4.5 million inhabitants.
However, despite generous pension and social security allowances and one of the best health services in the world, taxation is high in Norway and the cost of living doesn’t come cheap with a coffee costing around three euros in Oslo.
Today, Norway, which became independent from Sweden in 1905, is the fifth largest oil producer in the world and the third largest exporter of black gold.
Seventeen per cent of Europe’s natural gas comes from Norway yet 99 per cent of its electrical energy is hydroelectric not fossil fuel driven.
Another issue likely to be discussed is Norway’s future membership of the European Union following various ‘No’ referendums in 1972 and 1994.
Opinions continue to be divided in Norway on the issue despite her having signed an accord to be a member of the European Economic Area and a Schengen member state.
The Minister of Norwegian Commerce and Industry, Dag Terje Andersen said that joining the European Union would cost the country dear in terms of subsidies to poorer countries as well as benefiting the country in terms of trade.
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