EU Arctic Policy in Regional Context

06-07-2016

EU Arctic policy has evolved significantly in recent years, culminating in the April 2016 Joint Communication from the European Commission and the HRVP for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Communication focuses on the environment and climate change, sustainable development, and peaceful international cooperation, with overarching support for scientific research. This coincides with most of the priorities of the EU’s Arctic Member States, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. The Communication does not focus on security issues or on hydrocarbon development. Arctic oil and gas are not the primary keys to EU energy security, but do play a role, and are important for the EU’s two main suppliers, Norway and Russia – sustainable management of these resources is in the EU’s interest. While the region has been a model for cooperation – Arctic collaboration with Russia continues via multiple mechanisms, despite wider tensions. That it will remain so cannot be taken for granted. The EU supports peaceful Arctic cooperation via multiple mechanisms, including the Arctic Council, the Barents-Euro Arctic Council, and via multiple cross-border collaboration platforms. As the EU becomes increasingly engaged in Arctic issues, continued focus on policy coherence, engagement with other Arctic stakeholders, and the priorities of the region’s citizens will be essential.

EU Arctic policy has evolved significantly in recent years, culminating in the April 2016 Joint Communication from the European Commission and the HRVP for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Communication focuses on the environment and climate change, sustainable development, and peaceful international cooperation, with overarching support for scientific research. This coincides with most of the priorities of the EU’s Arctic Member States, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. The Communication does not focus on security issues or on hydrocarbon development. Arctic oil and gas are not the primary keys to EU energy security, but do play a role, and are important for the EU’s two main suppliers, Norway and Russia – sustainable management of these resources is in the EU’s interest. While the region has been a model for cooperation – Arctic collaboration with Russia continues via multiple mechanisms, despite wider tensions. That it will remain so cannot be taken for granted. The EU supports peaceful Arctic cooperation via multiple mechanisms, including the Arctic Council, the Barents-Euro Arctic Council, and via multiple cross-border collaboration platforms. As the EU becomes increasingly engaged in Arctic issues, continued focus on policy coherence, engagement with other Arctic stakeholders, and the priorities of the region’s citizens will be essential.