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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday 

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Tuesday with The Local’s short roundup of important news. 

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday 
Oslo Operahus. Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

Child’s body washed ashore identified 

The body of a 15-month old boy who washed ashore near Karmøy in southwest Norway has been identified as that of a child named Artin, who died alongside his relatives while attempting to cross the Channel from France into the United Kingdom. 

Artin’s body was found on New Year’s Day more than two months after the vessel carrying the rest of his family sank. The boat was carrying around 20 refugees in total. 

“We didn’t have a missing baby reported in Norway, and no family had contacted the police,” Camilla Tjelle Waage, the head of police investigations, told BBC News.  

Artin had a relative in Norway that allowed forensic scientists at Oslo University Hospital to match the DNA profiles of him and the relative to confirm his identity. 

“This has been a painstaking process, but we are pleased we have now received confirmation that this is the missing boy who was found on Karmøy. This story is tragic, but then it is at least good to give his surviving relatives an answer,” Waage said in a statement. 

READ ALSO: Body found in Oslo flat nine years after death 

His remaining family have been notified, and his remains are to be flown back to Iran to be buried. 

Six out of seven Norwegian dog breeds facing extinction 

Only one of Norway’s seven native dog breeds is not threatened with extinction. The other six are facing extinction, despite ten years of efforts to try and revive the breeds. 

The only Norwegian dog breed not in danger of disappearing is the Grey Norwegian Elkhound. 

“We are the country of origin of these dogs, and we have a special responsibility to the UN to preserve these dogs,” Odd Vangen, professor of livestock breeding and genetics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), told state broadcaster NRK.

The dog breeds endangered are the Hygen Hound, Norwegian Bunhund, Black Norwegian Elkhound, Norwegian Dunker, Norwegian Puffin Hound and the Halden Hound. 

According to Vangen, these dogs are facing extinction because they are working dogs and not bred for companionship. Many of the breeds are bred for hunting, but populations are dwindling due to a lack of hunters and hunting areas. 

NIPH ditches test concerts 

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has dropped its proposed test concert scheme after Oslo City Council said it would not host any events. 

“It is not worth carrying the concerts out if the only place we can host them in Bergen. The project is dead and buried,” Atle Fretheim, project manager for the scheme, told paper Bergens Tidende

The government had initially given the test concerts the go-ahead at the end of May to research whether rapid testing of the public could reduce the risk of infection. 

249 Covid-19 cases in Norway 

On Monday, 249 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Norway, a decrease of 36 compared to the seven day average of 286. 

In Oslo, 66 new cases of infection were registered, 19 fewer infections than the seven-day average. 

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 1.0. This means that every ten people that are infected will, on average, only infect another ten people, indicating that the infection level is stable. 

Total number of Covid-19 cases so far. Source: NIPH

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How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area

European countries agreed on Thursday to push towards a long-stalled reform of the bloc's migration system, urging tighter control of external borders and better burden-sharing when it comes to asylum-seekers.

How the EU aims to reform border-free Schengen area
European interior ministers met in the northern French city of tourcoing, where president Emmanuel Macron gave a speech. Photo: Yoat Valat/AFP

The EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, speaking after a meeting of European interior ministers, said she welcomed what she saw as new momentum on the issue.

In a reflection of the deep-rooted divisions on the issue, France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin – whose country holds the rotating EU presidency – said the process would be “gradual”, and welcomed what he said was unanimous backing.

EU countries backed a proposal from French President Emmanuel Macron to create a council guiding policy in the Schengen area, the passport-free zone used by most EU countries and some affiliated nations such as Switzerland and Norway.

Schengen council

Speaking before the meeting, Macron said the “Schengen Council” would evaluate how the area was working but would also take joint decisions and facilitate coordination in times of crisis.

“This council can become the face of a strong, protective Europe that is comfortable with controlling its borders and therefore its destiny,” he said.

The first meeting is scheduled to take place on March 3rd in Brussels.

A statement released after the meeting said: “On this occasion, they will establish a set of indicators allowing for real time evaluation of the situation at our borders, and, with an aim to be able to respond to any difficulty, will continue their discussions on implementing new tools for solidarity at the external borders.”

Step by step

The statement also confirmed EU countries agreed to take a step-by-step approach on plans for reforming the EU’s asylum rules.

“The ministers also discussed the issues of asylum and immigration,” it read.

“They expressed their support for the phased approach, step by step, put forward by the French Presidency to make headway on these complex negotiations.

“On this basis, the Council will work over the coming weeks to define a first step of the reform of the European immigration and asylum system, which will fully respect the balance between the requirements of responsibility and solidarity.”

A planned overhaul of EU migration policy has so far foundered on the refusal of countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to accept a sharing out of asylum-seekers across the bloc.

That forces countries on the EU’s outer southern rim – Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain – to take responsibility for handling irregular migrants, many of whom are intent on making their way to Europe’s wealthier northern nations.

France is pushing for member states to commit to reinforcing the EU’s external borders by recording the details of every foreign arrival and improving vetting procedures.

It also wants recalcitrant EU countries to financially help out the ones on the frontline of migration flows if they do not take in asylum-seekers themselves.

Johansson was critical of the fact that, last year, “45,000 irregular arrivals” were not entered into the common Eurodac database containing the fingerprints of migrants and asylum-seekers.

Earlier, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser suggested her country, France and others could form a “coalition of the willing” to take in asylum-seekers even if no bloc-wide agreement was struck to share them across member states.

She noted that Macron spoke of a dozen countries in that grouping, but added that was probably “very optimistic”.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, hailed what he said was “a less negative atmosphere” in Thursday’s meeting compared to previous talks.

But he cautioned that “we cannot let a few countries do their EU duty… while others look away”.

France is now working on reconciling positions with the aim of presenting propositions at a March 3rd meeting on European affairs.