Regional reform put on halt

Norwegian counties

The Norwegian government has decided to drop its announced plans for a major merger of counties. Originally, the number of counties was to be reduced from 19 to between six and eight.


Politicians in the northern county of Troms are distressed about the decision. County Council Chairman Paul Dahlø says the decision is a contradiction of the government’s former plans for the regions. Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Magnhild Kleppa, now says that the existing counties rather will get more powers. She believes that forced merger processes will be to the good. Ms. Kleppa still opens up for regional mergers should the counties themselves want it. The government now intends to strengthen the powers of the regions within the fields of infrastructure, education, research and business development. Leader of the opposition Conservative Party, Mr Erna Solberg, says to NRK that the decision is a major blow to the government’s regional policy. She believes that the proposed new powers to the regions are insignificant and that they will not strengthen the their influence in domestic affairs.