Relations between Norway and the Netherlands

Trollstigen Viewpoint, Norway. Foto: Øyvind Heen -

Relations between Norway and the Netherlands are outstanding. Our two countries enjoy close ties through trade, culture, and politics. Norway and the Netherlands are like-minded on several issues such as human rights, security and development, which means we often act in concert internationally. Of course, geographically our countries are far from similar; while the Netherlands has a low terrain with canals, Norway is mountainous with deep fjords. We therefore also differ in our 'natural abilities'; the Dutch learn to cycle almost as soon as they can walk, while Norwegians are said to be ‘born with skies on their feet’.         

The historical ties between Norway and the Netherlands date all the way back to the Viking age when Scandinavian Vikings sailed along the rivers into the Netherlands to trade and pillage. For some time, around the year 879, ‘Godfried de Normaan’ even ruled the city of Utrecht. More positive economic ties evolved and trade flourished between the Netherlands and Norway in the Hanseatic era, during the 15th and 16th century. Norway exported mainly wood and stone to the Netherlands; in fact, large parts of Amsterdam is built on poles made by Norwegian timber. During the 17th century a large group of Norwegians emigrated to the Netherlands as it offered better opportunities and wages than Norway. In 1650 the Norwegian population of Amsterdam had grown to approximately 13.500 people and is therefore sometimes referred to as one of the largest ‘Norwegian cities’ at the time. In the same period, Bergen was Norway’s largest city and had a similar amount of inhabitants. During World War II, Norwegian army and air force units participated in the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944-1945.

Below you can find more information about Norway and the Netherland’s economic, political and cultural relations.

Economic ties
Trade and shipping have been central to the relationship between the two countries for several hundred years. In 2016 the Netherlands was Norway's third largest export marked. The export is mainly crude oil, natural gas and mainland exports such as metals, chemical products and seafood. Import from the Netherlands to Norway is also substantial, and mainly consists of engineering and chemical products, metals, and food.

Energy is a particularly important field of cooperation. The world’s longest submarine power cable was opened in 2008 and stretches from Feda in Norway to Eemshaven in the Netherlands. The 580 kilometer long cable, called NorNed, is 410 meters below sea level on its deepest. It transports green electric power between our countries, with a capacity of 700 megawatts.

Political allies
Norway and the Netherlands have a great deal to learn from each other when it comes to national policies. Politicians and civil servants often meet, exchange views and share best practices. Immigration, social and institutional reform, and energy solutions are examples of policy fields where the two countries often look to each other.
On the international scene, Norway and the Netherlands share many common interests, such as within development cooperation, human rights advocacy, and peace processes. Both countries are strong supporters of multilateral institutions and have been active members of the UN and NATO from the beginning. The Netherlands was one of the founding members of the European Union (EU), of which Norway is not a member. However, Norway has close ties to the EU, primarily through the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Schengen Agreement.

The Netherlands is one of the countries with which Norway has the closest defence cooperation. The Dutch and the Norwegian armies cooperate increasingly often in NATO reaction forces. The Dutch marines conduct arctic training in Norway every year. Furthermore, the Netherlands and Norway have had a very close F-16 fighter aircraft cooperation since the 1970s.

Cultural exchange
Norway and the Netherlands are closely connected through cultural exchange, among others in the fields of music, film, and literature. For example, Norwegians embraced Dutch DJ Tiësto early on in his career, and the same occured with Norwegian DJ Kygo in the Netherlands. In the world of art, the Van Gogh Museum and the Munch Museum collaborate on projects, such as the Munch/Van Gogh exhibition showcased in both museums in 2015 and parts of 2016. Furthermore, in Norway, Dutch architects played an important role in the renewal of the area around the Oslo fjord. 

Dutch tourists make up a significant part of tourism to Norway; they were the 4th largest tourist group in 2016. Last, but not least, another cultural connection between the Dutch and Norwegians is our common love for speed skating.