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Norges Bank – og andre «uavhengige» statsinstitusjoner

The Bank of Norway – and other «independent» state institutions

Tore Grønlie, f. 1946, dr. philos. 1989, professor emeritus, Institutt for arkeologi, historie, kultur- og religionsvitenskap, Universitetet i Bergen.

Artikkelen diskuterer et hovedtema i Norges Banks historie – spenningen og balansen mellom politisk styring og institusjonell autonomi. Det er en utbredt oppfatning i offentligheten at Norges Bank har vært unik i sin posisjonering i dette grenselandet. Men i de senere år har vi fått en flora av statlige institusjoner, etater og bedrifter med i prinsippet den samme doble forutsetning: politisk styring og betydelig selvstendig beslutningsmakt. Så hvor særegen er og har Norges Bank vært? Forfatteren argumenterer for at Norges Bank i stor grad følger hovedlinjene i den allmenne styrings- og forvaltningspolitikken: mer styring fra krigens dager og frem mot 1980- og 90-årene, en mer differensiert utvikling derpå.

The author discusses a main theme in the History of the Bank of Norway: the balance and the tensions between political steering and institutional autonomy. In public life there has been, and still is, a widespread perception that the Bank of Norway holds a unique position at the threshold between politics and the freedom of independent decision making. In recent years, however, Norway has seen the creation of a host of state institutions, agencies and businesses that enjoy, in principle, the same double prerequisite: political direction and considerable autonomy. So, considering the period 1945-2016, how special has the Bank of Norway been? To answer the question, the author compares the development of the relationship between the Bank of Norway and political authorities with three groups of institutions over these years: first, directorates (government agencies of a general nature); secondly, government agencies with varying degrees of judicially specified decision-making autonomy, and thirdly, state businesses (limited liability companies and businesses organised under laws created more specifically to suit state purposes – «foretak»). He argues that, on a general level, both the provisions of political steering and the problems encountered and handled are, to a surprising degree, the same: they concern the drawing of boundaries between areas that should be an object of political decision and those that should be the exclusive domain of the institution, and the content and form of political direction. Furthermore, the Bank of Norway is not unique when it comes to the judicially specified limitations on the government’s right to political instruction. It shares with many other institutions the provision that political direction is appropriate only by the collective action of the cabinet (»regjeringen» – «Kongen i statsråd»). As a matter of fact, «on paper», it is granted less autonomy than many others in that political instruction is possible not only on general issues, but also in individual cases. The relationship between the bank and political authorities over the years is to a considerable degree consistent with the general lines of development of the national politics on constitutional and administrative affairs: steadily increasing political direction from 1945 to the 1980s and 90s, with a more differentiated approach more recently.

Key words: Bank of Norway, political steering and institutional autonomy, policies of constitutional and administrative affairs, juridification
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