Brussels, 17 March 2023
Thank you very much, Jonas, for the invitation. It is the very first time in my life that I am on a gas rig, so it is amazing, it is really exciting. And indeed, Norway has been an incredibly precious partner and friend to the European Union, mainly in the last 12 months while we saw this atrocious war that Russia unleashed against Ukraine. Putin tried to blackmail the European Union by cutting us off Russian gas supply. Putin has stopped 80%, an equivalent of 100 billion cubic metres of gas, from going to the European Union. And in that time, we needed friends and like-minded partners to step up. And that is what Norway did. Norway increased its production and helped us in a critical time. It increased the production from 78 billion cubic metres to 90 billion cubic metres, and this really helped us through the winter. We are grateful for that, and we are very happy to hear that in the years to come, we will maintain this high level of support.
But of course, our friendship and partnership is much, much broader than only natural gas. Indeed, we are working on a Green Alliance. The Green Alliance is basically the champions league. We, the European Union, have only one Green Alliance so far, with Japan. And now Norway will be the first country in Europe to have a Green Alliance with the European Union. We are working on decarbonisation. We are working indeed on hydrogen, green hydrogen. We are interested in carbon capture and storage. Of course, here in Norway, you are champions what offshore wind and also onshore wind is concerned. You have the wind and you have the technology, so everything is open to create this Green Alliance. I am very much looking forward to doing that.
My third point is on security. Indeed, the last months taught us how important it is to protect our critical infrastructure. And here, Jens, I am very grateful that, together with NATO, the European Union created a Task Force. We had the very first meeting of this Task Force for the protection of the critical infrastructure yesterday. What is the principle? The European Union and NATO both have a very clear view on the threat theatre and an assessment on the situation, but we come from different angles. And therefore, if we join forces, we have a broader view and of course we are also able to find more solutions to protect our critical infrastructure. So, in sum, it is great to be here among friends and thank you for the excellent cooperation.
Jens, over to you.