Here is Norway’s new minority government

The Progress Party is officially out, with a raft of appointments to Prime Minister Erna Solberg's new minority government.

Here is Norway’s new minority government
Prime Minister Erna Solberg takes a selfie with her new government. Photo: AFP

Solberg presented her new government and ministers this afternoon at Slottsplassen in Oslo, meaning Norway has been granted a minority government for the first time in 15 years.

The re-shuffle and appointment of new ministers comes after the populist Progress Party quit the coalition earlier this week.

The background for the decision was Norway's decision to allow a woman linked with the Islamic State terror group back into the country on humanitarian grounds. 

Progress leader Siv Jensen also cited ” not seeing enough of our politics implemented” as the anti-immigration party withdrew from the government on Monday.

A notable departure from the new Solberg minority government is Anniken Hauglie, who leaves her post as Minister of Labour, a change that was confirmed on Friday.

Hauglie’s ministry is at the centre of controversy surrounding Norway’s Labour and Welfare Administration, Nav, which incorrectly interpreted EU rules on certain types of social security over a number of years, resulting in a string of incorrect convictions for benefit fraud.

She is succeeded in the post by Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

Opposition party the Socialist Left has criticizing the removal of Hauglie at the same time as parliamentary investigations into the social security scandal. At Friday’s press conference, Solberg denied that the departure is an admission of guilt on the part of the government.

“I have clearly said that we will take responsibility for the mistakes we have made,” Solberg said at the press conference, NRK reports.

When Hauglie handed over the keys to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to Isaksen later on Friday, she said that the departure was at her own request.

“It was my choice. I have always been open in saying that I did not want to be re-nominated to parliament, and that I did not want to be part of the team for another election campaign,” she told NRK.

Another notable ministerial change is the appointment of Knut Arild Hareide, the former leader of the Christian Democratic party who, during his leadership of that party, refused to govern alongside the Progress Party. Hareide becomes minister of transport.

The Progress Party prickled at the appointment of Hareide as well as the Liberals’ Abid Raja, who last autumn accused the populist party of engaging in “brown propaganda”. Raja will take over as Minister for Culture and Equality.

Outgoing minister of oil and energy, Sylvi Listhaug, a former immigration minister and one of the Progress Party’s most prominent anti-immigration profiles, called the appointment “pure provocation”, NRK reports.

A total of nine ministers – seven from the Progress Party along with Hauglie and outgoing climate minister Ole Elvestuen – have been replaced, with seven new appointments. Six ministers have been given new portfolios or ministries, and six, along with Solberg, continue with their current jobs.

12 of the ministers come from Solberg’s Conservative Party, with 4 each from the Liberals and Christian Democrats.

33-year-old Tina Bru from Solberg's party has been given the key post of Minister of Oil and Energy. The new Finance Minister, Jan Tore Sanner, also from the Conservatives, takes the job vacated by Jensen.

READ ALSO: Norway: Populist party quits government over jihadi spouse repatriation

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Norway summons US embassy top official over spying claims

Norway said Thursday it had summoned the US embassy's top official in Oslo to lodge an official protest following a report that Washington had spied on Norwegian and other European leaders.

Norway summons US embassy top official over spying claims
Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg gestures as she speaks at the official NATO outreach event, 'Nato Engages' in central London. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The meeting was held between the Ministry of Defence and the US embassy’s top official. 

“The defence ministry held a meeting with the US embassy in Oslo today where we made it clear that spying on allies is unacceptable and unnecessary,” Norway’s Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said on Twitter.

The ministry said the US charge d’affaires — Richard Riley, according to the embassy’s website — was the person who attended the meeting with a senior Norwegian official.

The US embassy is currently without an ambassador.

A tweet from Norway’s Ministry of Defence. Source Twitter @Forsvarsdep

In an investigative report on Sunday, Danish public broadcaster DR revealed together with several other European media outlets that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on Danish underwater internet cables from 2012 to 2014 to spy on top politicians in Germany, Sweden, Norway and France

The NSA was able to access text messages, telephone calls and internet traffic including searches, chats and messaging services — including those of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, then-foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and then-opposition leader Peer Steinbrück, DR said.

READ MORE: Europe demands answers after US-Danish spying claims

 “I’m pleased that the Americans clearly said that they changed their practices in 2014 when it comes to the monitoring of allies, and that they want to cooperate with us and others to chart what happened,” Norwegian news agency NTB quoted Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg as saying.

“We summoned the US embassy in Oslo today to follow up on this,” she added.

 According to NTB, Solberg also held talks on Thursday with her Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen.

“I reiterated that we consider espionage against close friends and allies unacceptable and unnecessary,” she said.

US eavesdropping on European leaders is, however, not new.

In 2013, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed thousands of classified documents exposing the vast US surveillance put in place after the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

Among other things, the documents showed the US government was spying on its own citizens and carrying out widespread tapping worldwide, including of Merkel’s mobile phone.

However, if the Danish-US spying is confirmed, it went on during and after the 2013 Snowden affair.

In 2014, following the Snowden scandal, a secret internal working group at FE began looking into whether the NSA had used a Danish-US spying collaboration — called XKeyscore — to spy on Denmark’s allies, DR said.