Greenland: The Challenge of Managing a Key Geostrategic Territory

17-03-2014

Greenland’s geostrategic location will grow in importance in the coming years – and not only because the island’s melting ice sheet lies at the forefront of climate change concerns. After acquiring home rule status from Denmark in 1979, Greenland’s 2009 Self- Government Act substantially increased its powers, including the management of its substantial untapped natural resources. Despite the difficulties inherent in exploiting these resources, they have already attracted international attention, notably from Asian countries. Although Greenland is still heavily dependent on an annual grant from Copenhagen, the territory will probably become self-sustainable in the medium term. Its sparse population faces a challenge in administering the huge territory. Elections in March 2013 focused mainly on the conditions for implementing large mining and industrial projects in the future and their effects on the Inuit way of life. The vote returned the Siumut party to power, with Greenland’s first female Prime Minister, Aleqa Hammond. Greenland is the only territory to have withdrawn from the European Union, but it remains one of the EU's Overseas Countries and Territories, closely tied to the Union through an extensive partnership agreement and a fisheries protocol. Greenland is also a focus of the EU’s Arctic policy.

Greenland’s geostrategic location will grow in importance in the coming years – and not only because the island’s melting ice sheet lies at the forefront of climate change concerns. After acquiring home rule status from Denmark in 1979, Greenland’s 2009 Self- Government Act substantially increased its powers, including the management of its substantial untapped natural resources. Despite the difficulties inherent in exploiting these resources, they have already attracted international attention, notably from Asian countries. Although Greenland is still heavily dependent on an annual grant from Copenhagen, the territory will probably become self-sustainable in the medium term. Its sparse population faces a challenge in administering the huge territory. Elections in March 2013 focused mainly on the conditions for implementing large mining and industrial projects in the future and their effects on the Inuit way of life. The vote returned the Siumut party to power, with Greenland’s first female Prime Minister, Aleqa Hammond. Greenland is the only territory to have withdrawn from the European Union, but it remains one of the EU's Overseas Countries and Territories, closely tied to the Union through an extensive partnership agreement and a fisheries protocol. Greenland is also a focus of the EU’s Arctic policy.