En Norway as elsewhere, we have our little worries. The very serious daily Aftenposten wonders how to restore the credibility of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was to be awarded on Friday October 7 in Oslo, after so many bad past choices. Frost’s fate is also worrying. This polar bear invites itself into tourist cabins in the Svalbard archipelago, in the far north of the country. Should it be euthanized, as for Freya, the walrus that was causing disruption in the port of Oslo?
On the other hand, the northernmost country in Europe, bathed by the Arctic Ocean, will not have a heating problem this winter. Its dams provide it with abundant and clean electricity, while its gas and oil reserves, buried in the North Sea, have transformed this mountainous kingdom into an emirate of great cold. It supplies electricity to its Nordic neighbors and has become, thanks to the war in Ukraine, the supplier of half of Europe’s gas needs. As such, he is the first target of the discussions that were held on Friday, October 7, in Prague, between the 27 countries of the European Union on the price of gas.
Even if it is not a member of the Union, the country has chosen its side. It has just restricted the access of Russian fishing vessels to its ports and has decided to increase its military spending, while its northern border touches the region of Murmansk, capital of the Russian Arctic.
The fact remains that Norway is, along with Qatar, the great beneficiary of this conflict. The surge in gas prices, coupled with the need for Europe to urgently remedy the stoppage of Russian supplies, has inflated its coffers like never before. In August alone, its trade surplus exploded to 20 billion dollars (20.3 billion euros), or 37% more than in July, which represented a fourfold increase in one year.
Taken by the throat, the Europeans would like Oslo to make a small effort, either voluntarily by means of advantageous long-term contracts, or by the more expeditious method of fixing a maximum price. This is what is on the table for discussion at the European Council. During a telephone discussion on 12 September with the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Store, showed himself “skeptical”.
He is not the only one. Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark oppose it, in the name of the disturbance that this could create on the markets, in particular vis-à-vis other non-European suppliers. It would still be progress compared to the current chaos, which raises the question that now haunts us: is the market economy still soluble in the war economy?