REPORT on the Arctic: opportunities, concerns and security challenges

4.8.2021 - (2020/2112(INI))

Committee on Foreign Affairs
Rapporteur: Anna Fotyga

Procedure : 2020/2112(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :


on the Arctic: opportunities, concerns and security challenges


The European Parliament,

 having regard to Title V of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), notably Articles 21, 22, 34, and 36 , as well as to Part Five of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

 having regard to its resolutions of 9 October 2008 on Arctic Governance[1], of 20 January 2011 on a sustainable EU policy for the High North[2], of 12 March 2014 on the EU strategy for the Arctic[3], of 16 March 2017 on an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic[4], of 3 July 2018 on climate diplomacy[5], and of 28 November 2019 on the climate and environment emergency[6],

 having regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2007,

 having regard to its resolution of 3 July 2018 on violation of the rights of indigenous peoples in the world, including land grabbing[7],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 20 November 2008 entitled ‘The European Union and the Arctic region’ (COM(2008)0763), and to the joint communications of 26 June 2012 entitled ‘Developing a European Union policy towards the Arctic region: progress since 2008 and next steps’ (JOIN(2012)0019) and of 27 April 2016 entitled ‘An integrated European Union policy for the Arctic’ (JOIN(2016)0021),

 having regard to the relevant recommendations of the Delegation for Northern cooperation and for relations with Switzerland and Norway and to the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee and the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Parliamentary Committee (DEEA),

 having regard to the Summary of the results of the public consultation on the EU Arctic policy of January 2021,

 having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2020[8] and the Commission communication of 11 December 2019 (COM(2019)0640) on the European Green Deal ,

 having regard to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),

 having regard to the agreement adopted in Paris on 12 December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (the Paris Agreement),

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 8 December 2009 on Arctic issues, of 12 May 2014 on developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region, of 20 June 2016 on the Arctic, of 21 November 2019 on space solutions for a sustainable Arctic and of 9 December 2019 on the EU Arctic policy,

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 15 May 2017 on indigenous peoples and the joint staff working document of 17 October 2016 on implementing EU external policy on indigenous peoples (SWD(2016)0340),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 20 November 2008 on the European Union and the Arctic region (COM(2008)0763),

 having regard to the Ilulissat Declaration between the five Arctic coastal states (the US, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark), which was announced on May 28 2008 and reaffirmed in May 2018,

 having regard to the establishment of the Council of the Baltic Sea States(CBSS) and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC),

  having regard to Council Decision 2014/137/EU of 14 March 2014 on relations between the European Union on the one hand, and Greenland and the Kingdom of Denmark on the other,

 having regard to the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy of June 2016,

 having regard to the national Arctic strategies, in particular those of Arctic states, namely the Kingdom of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, as well as those of other EU and EEA Member States,

 having regard to the European Union Maritime Security Strategy,

 having regard to the Space Strategy for Europe, published by the Commission on 26 October 2016 (COM(2016)0705),

 having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) concluded on 10 December 1982 and in force since 16 November 1994,

 having regard to the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 16 November 1972,

 having regard to International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples,

 having regard to the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean of 3 October 2018 (CAO Fisheries Agreement),

 having regard to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR),

 having regard to the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) of the International Maritime Organization,

 having regard to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) of 1974, the international Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) of 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 and by the Protocol of 1997, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) of 1978, as amended in 1995 and 2010, the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs) of 1972, the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) of 1965, and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) of 1979,

 having regard to the Svalbard Treaty (previously the Treaty concerning the Archipelago of Spitsbergen) of 9 February 1920,

 having regard to the Ottawa Declaration of 19 September 1996 establishing the Arctic Council,

 having regard to the statements adopted at the Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum in Bodø, Norway, in November 2019, in Brussels in November 2017, in Reykjavik, Iceland, in May 2015, in Archangelsk, Russia, in November 2013, in Tromsø, Norway, in February 2011 and in Brussels in September 2009,

 having regard to the three legally binding agreements negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council, namely the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic of 2011, the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic of 2013, and the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation of 2017,

 having regard to the statement from the 14th Conference of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region held on 13 and 14 April 2021,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 3 September 2020 entitled ‘Critical Raw Materials Resilience: Charting a Path towards greater Security and Sustainability’ (COM(2020)0474),

 having regard to the EU Arctic Forum held in Umeå, Sweden, in 2019,

 having regard to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), particularly its Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate and Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C,

 having regard to the summary report of the Arctic Stakeholder Forum consultation to identify key investment priorities in the Arctic and ways to better streamline future EU funding programmes for the region, published on 21 December 2017,

 having regard to the strategic note of the European Political Strategy Centre of July 2019 entitled ‘Walking on Thin Ice: A Balanced Arctic Strategy for the EU’,

 having regard to the North Atlantic Treaty, the Warsaw Summit Communiqué, issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw of 8 and 9 July 2016, and the analysis and recommendations of the reflection group appointed by the NATO Secretary General entitled ‘NATO 2030: United for a New Era’,

 having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A9-0239/2021),

A. whereas, over the past decades, the Arctic has been a region of peace, low tensions and constructive international cooperation between the eight Arctic states (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Canada and the US); whereas the Arctic states and the international community should therefore keep it as such and continue to display political will to cooperate and resolve contentious issues in accordance with international law;

B. whereas the region’s geopolitical importance is growing, and the future of the Arctic and the global challenges the Arctic region is facing, which go beyond those of the littoral Arctic states, therefore require multi-level governance, with a need to pursue regional cooperation and international solutions; whereas there is a direct link between the geopolitics and security of the Arctic and its environmental situation, which is in turn strongly influenced by the consequences of human activity in other areas of the planet;

C. whereas the comprehensive governance model of the Arctic, with international law at its core, has proven to be effective and robust; whereas cooperation has proven to be the most useful way of establishing relations between the Arctic states;

D. whereas the current Arctic governance framework, centred on the Arctic Council, has for the last 25 years made a significant contribution to the stability of the region; whereas the Arctic Council is the primary forum for Arctic cooperation and its working groups serve as an arena for positive and constructive international cooperation;

E. whereas the work of the Arctic Council has been vital in securing peaceful and constructive cooperation between the Arctic states, leading to several binding agreements between them; whereas in the past the Arctic region has been relatively unaffected by global geopolitical conflicts, but its military importance and geopolitical strategic role are increasing; whereas Arctic security and politics have become ever more linked to global issues, with developments outside the Arctic likely to have consequences for Arctic states and vice versa, which makes avoiding any spill-over effect on the Arctic from geopolitical tensions and conflicts in other regions even more important;

F. whereas the Arctic Council’s commitment to the well-being of the inhabitants of the Arctic, the sustainable development of the region and the protection of the Arctic environment, including the health of ecosystems, maintenance and restoration of biodiversity, conservation and the sustainable management of natural resources, is fully supported by the EU;

G. whereas the EU has been a long-time advocate for close cooperation in the Arctic region and has been engaged in the Arctic for decades through its involvement in the Northern Dimension policy with Russia, Norway and Iceland, its participation in the establishment of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), its cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, particularly in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Barents Regional Council, its strategic partnerships with Canada and the US, and its participation as an active de facto observer in the Arctic Council; whereas the EU has contributed over EUR 1 billion to regional development and cross-border cooperation in the European Arctic;

H. whereas international law forms the basis of international engagement and cooperation in the Arctic; whereas, in particular, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which provide a framework for international cooperation and action on issues related to the Arctic Ocean, should be reaffirmed and reinforced; whereas the UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, grants economic rights to coastal states over their exclusive economic zones, as well as over their continental shelves, and stipulates that the high seas are not subject to any state sovereignty; whereas all Arctic coastal states have confirmed in the Ilulissat Declaration that they will follow international law, most notably the UNCLOS, in governing the Arctic Ocean; whereas the IMO sets out global regulatory standards for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping;

I. whereas the Arctic has been particularly and increasingly affected by the dramatic impact of climate change and biodiversity degradation, including rising temperatures, changing ice conditions, wild fires, rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, invasive alien species, severe biodiversity losses and the thawing of permafrost, which are affecting the entire planet, but also represent a risk to the local infrastructure; whereas local adaptation strategies and the protection of the Arctic ecosystem cannot be addressed independently from the global framework of climate action, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement is at the heart of such cooperation;

J. whereas some parts of the Arctic have the highest concentration of plastic litter in the world, which is already affecting Arctic animal species and posing a risk of contaminating the food web, and will eventually affect humans;

K. whereas the alarming pace of the melting ice caps in the Arctic is due to climate change and factors that mainly originated outside the Arctic; whereas climate change should be viewed as a threat multiplier, which exacerbates existing trends, tensions and instability;

L. whereas the melting Arctic ice cap and the resulting rise in sea levels would have serious global environmental, economic and human security implications; whereas the melting of the Greenland ice cap could cause a rise in sea levels across the world of up to 7.2 metres, submerging many regions across the planet; whereas some populations are already experiencing the consequences of the melting ice caps and have become climate refugees, which has generated migratory flows from these places to neighbouring countries; whereas Greenland’s melting ice is also altering biodiversity;

M. whereas among the various threats that the Arctic is exposed to as a result of human activity, one of particular concern is the thawing of permafrost; whereas permafrost covers around 24 % of the northern hemisphere soil, particularly large areas of the north of Russia; whereas permafrost contains large proportions of dangerous methane and CO2 and as it thaws greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming; whereas the melting of permafrost can change ecosystems and affect security in unexpected ways;

N. whereas while the challenges to the Arctic are predominantly caused by global climate change and activities outside the Arctic region, the effects of climate change are particularly visible in the Arctic, since the Arctic is heating three times faster than the global average and Arctic sea ice is melting at an unprecedented speed, with rising sea levels creating a dire social, environmental and economic impact not only in the region itself but also worldwide; whereas these effects are changing the regional ecosystem, geography and economy by potentially opening new transport routes, enhancing trade, enabling access to rare natural resources, and intensifying research activities, fishing and tourism; whereas some of these changes offer enormous potential for technologically advanced, environmentally friendly and sustainable economic development; whereas the challenges affecting the Arctic are the responsibility of the whole world, especially climate change; whereas the EU should act on these challenges both through its own commitments and by providing assistance to others;

O. whereas man-made environmental disasters in the Arctic, particularly when extracting oil and other Arctic resources, are difficult to contain and manage, and eliminating the damage caused can have high costs; whereas the largest oil spill in the Arctic took place in Siberia in May 2020, when more than 20 000 tons of diesel fuel poured into the surrounding terrain and waterways near the Russian city of Norilsk, and the clean-up work is still ongoing;

P. whereas the mostly extraneous effects of climate change in the Arctic and the re-emergence of geopolitical competition in the region constitute complicating factors for sustainable development and the preservation of traditional livelihoods in the fragile environment of the Arctic and may affect the security and sustainable economic development of the region;

Q. whereas the region’s geo-economic importance is quickly growing owing to the increasing interest in its rich and abundant natural resources, including critical raw materials, its emerging maritime routes and its potential for maritime transportation; whereas Arctic countries, while having the right to use resources on their own territories, also have a duty to do so in a responsible manner; whereas the exploration and exploitation of Arctic resources entail substantial risks for the vulnerable ecosystems and local populations in the region; whereas in 2019 the EU and the UK imported a large share of Arctic states’ exports of energy, metals, minerals and fish;

R. whereas the North West Passage, the Northern Sea Route and the future Transpolar Sea Route are opening up as a consequence of the ice melting; whereas the natural resources of the Arctic region fall largely within the national jurisdiction of the Arctic states, and the ownership of these resources is undisputed; whereas the need to develop and find sustainable solutions for energy production and transportation has increased the global demand for rare-earth elements, which has shifted the focus to the Arctic’s largely unexploited natural resources; whereas the Arctic region has a vast reserve of rare-earth minerals; whereas 90 % of global rare-earth production currently stems from China;

S. whereas the primary responsibility for the sustainable development of the Arctic lies with the Arctic states, but the significant impact of external factors cannot be denied and the international community therefore has an obligation to do all it can to protect the Arctic region and ensure its stability and safety;

T. whereas the circumpolar Arctic is home to over four million people, including over 40 different indigenous peoples and local communities and half a million EU citizens; whereas the EU’s only recognised indigenous people, the Sami people, live in the Arctic regions of Finland and Sweden, as well as Norway and Russia; whereas indigenous peoples and local communities play a vital role in the sustainable management of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity; whereas demography is important to regional development;

U. whereas cooperation in the field of scientific research is now, more than ever, crucial to overcome the challenges brought about by severe environmental degradation and climate change;

V. whereas the EU has contributed over EUR 200 million to Arctic research through the Horizon 2020 programme;

W. whereas the EU is committed to working towards an open and secure global maritime domain, in accordance with the EU Global Strategy and the EU Maritime Security Strategy;

X. whereas the EU’s engagement with the Arctic is based on history, geography, economy and research; whereas the importance of sustainable development, cohesion policy and cross-border cooperation for easing geopolitical tensions should be emphasised; whereas the EU, as a global actor, has consistently demonstrated its commitment towards a peaceful, environmentally clean, cooperative, sustainable and prosperous Arctic, and aims to secure a sustainable future for people living in the Arctic; whereas the EU has clearly indicated its readiness to play an even more prominent role;

Y. whereas the EU has the ability to contribute in various ways to solving potential emerging challenges and prevent conflicts in the Arctic;

Z. whereas the EU’s application to become a full observer to the Arctic Council, of which the Arctic Council members acknowledged receipt in 2013, is currently pending; whereas the final decision has been deferred as a result of resistance from some Arctic Council members; whereas Parliament has previously shown support for that application; whereas the EU actively participates in the work of the relevant groups, taskforces and expert groups of the Arctic Council; whereas the EU’s broad spectrum of regional competences, expert knowledge and existing initiatives can serve as a framework for joint projects;

AA. whereas France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Italy – observers to the Arctic Council – show a substantial involvement in the Arctic and a strong interest in future dialogue and cooperation with the Arctic Council; whereas Estonia and Ireland have applied to become observers to the Arctic Council;

AB. whereas Iceland and Norway, as engaged and reliable partners, are associated with the EU through the EEA and Schengen Agreements;

AC. whereas the stability of the Arctic has long been relatively well preserved, but it is increasingly affected by the growing international interest in the region and the changing security landscape, including the progressive re-militarisation of the Russian Federation in the region; whereas the Russian Federation’s economic and military investments in the Arctic far exceed those of the rest of the Arctic states; whereas the Russian Federation has established new and modernised old military bases in the northern regions and boosted the anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capability restricting navigation rights in the strategic Northern Sea Route, which it falsely claims as an internal waterway; whereas Russia has upgraded its Northern Fleet to the status of a military district and has scaled up different branches of its armed forces, equipped inter alia with new submarines, nuclear- and conventionally powered icebreakers, combat-ready radars and missile systems; whereas Russia has revived the bastion defence concept aimed at protecting its strategic capabilities from the Barents Sea to the Bering Straits; whereas Russia has also increased its naval and air patrols, submarine activity and electronic warfare tactics, which is a very worrying development; whereas such geopolitical developments have led to an increase in exercises, deployments, patrols and capability investments in the Arctic; whereas the militarisation of the area runs counter to the spirit of cooperation that has guided the relationship between states in the Arctic so far;

AD. whereas the Barents Sea region has been the main testbed for both ballistic and cruise missile systems, while the area east of Noveya Zemlya has been the main area for nuclear tests;

AE. whereas Russia has violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its peaceful neighbours, blocking freedom of navigation in the Azov, Black and Baltic Seas, all of which cannot be disregarded when assessing the future scenarios for maintaining current peaceful coexistence in the Arctic;

AF. whereas China’s far-reaching projects and initiatives are a cause of great concern; whereas China released its first White Paper on Arctic Policy in January 2018 and engaged in a long-term effort to enhance its position in the Arctic, declaring itself a ‘near-Arctic state’, with the ambition of becoming a ‘polar power’, and is enhancing collaboration with Russia in the Arctic; whereas China has created a Polar Silk Road for commerce through the Arctic region, as an extension to its Belt and Road Initiative, and has organised regional scientific exploration missions, establishing research centres in the Arctic and developing 24 polar observation satellites; whereas China participates actively in the Arctic Council and has engaged in bilateral cooperation with individual Arctic states and other stakeholders in order to earn support for its initiatives;

AG. whereas most Arctic players have updated their strategies, taking into account the rapidly changing situation in the Arctic and the growing economic and geostrategic significance of the region;

International cooperation as the bedrock of a safe, stable, prosperous, accessible and peaceful Arctic

1. Reaffirms that the Arctic is of strategic and political importance to the EU, as an Arctic stakeholder and global actor, and underlines the EU’s commitment to being a responsible actor, seeking the long-term sustainable and peaceful development of the region by fully cooperating with international partners; considers it crucial that all stakeholders, including the EU and its Member States, act to maintain peaceful and intense international and regional cooperation, scientific research, prosperity and low tensions in the Arctic, as well as to respond to the very alarming effects and consequences of climate change in the region; considers that the Arctic plays a crucial role in maintaining the environmental balance of the planet, is satisfied that the region has long been a place of peace and fruitful international cooperation, and congratulates the Arctic Council on its 25th anniversary as the primary forum for Arctic cooperation, which has proven its ability to maintain a constructive and positive spirit of cooperation;

2. Supports the validity of the three founding pillars of the integrated EU policy for the Arctic, namely responding ambitiously to climate change and safeguarding the Arctic environment, promoting sustainable development and strengthening international cooperation; stresses the importance of a balanced EU Arctic policy and is of the opinion that the EU is uniquely well-placed to help coordinate and complement Member States’ Arctic policies, and therefore stresses the need for more coherence between the EU’s internal and external policies as regards Arctic matters; urges the EU to include an Arctic dimension wherever appropriate in its sectoral policies;

3. Underlines the important role of Arctic Council observers, which have considerable experience and have long been engaged in scientific and political cooperation in the Arctic; welcomes, in this regard, the ongoing dialogue between the observers and the Arctic Council Presidency; supports the EU’s application to become a full observer in the Arctic Council and encourages the members of the Arctic Council to respond positively to the EU’s request; underlines, however, that the EU is already a de facto observer of the Arctic Council, with the possibility to participate and contribute on the same terms as other observer members;

4. Stresses that the EU must contribute to enhanced Arctic multilateral governance, promote the sustainable use of resources, and protect and preserve the Arctic in unison with its population; calls for the EU to continue to contribute to the Arctic Council through expertise and financing by increasing its engagement in the Arctic Council working groups and its various projects; believes that the northern region should be viewed as part of the EU’s northern neighbourhood, with increased participation in existing forums; highlights that the Northern Dimension serves as a constructive arena for cross-border cooperation, with a successful model for sectoral cooperation, in which the EU contributes equally to the joint policy with Russia, Norway and Iceland, as well as other observers; welcomes further practical cooperation on a broad range of areas; highlights the cooperation between local and national state and non-state actors within the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, of which the EU is a full member, on issues with particular relevance to the Barents region; notes that the Barents Euro-Arctic Council has played an important role in building trust and mutual understanding in the North while enhancing cooperation between Arctic countries; notes that the EU should also aim to participate in other political forums linked to Arctic development;

5. Welcomes the ongoing process of updating the EU’s Arctic policy, which should reflect the EU’s interest in the Arctic and address the combined challenges of increased international attention and climatic, environmental, geopolitical and geo-economic changes in the region; considers that the policy should include new actors such as China and that the security dimension of the Arctic should be addressed in the EU’s common foreign and security policy; believes, in particular, that it should incorporate a comprehensive approach to security, which should include notably the notions of environment and health, as well as maritime security issues; notes that such an comprehensive updated policy, based on consensus among all Member States, will allow the EU to play an effective, proactive and more ambitious role in the region, taking into account the pressing challenges related to climate change and the growing geopolitical significance of the Arctic, but will also serve the interests of EU citizens, predominantly those living in the Arctic, and of the indigenous peoples in particular; stresses that such a policy must reflect both the internal and external dimensions of EU relations with the Arctic and should include a sustainable connectivity dimension in order to solve key issues faced by Arctic inhabitants, such as ensuring quality internet connections;

6. Is of the opinion that the new EU Arctic policy should be used more broadly as an opportunity to increase awareness and engagement among EU citizens, academia and businesses as regards Arctic issues; calls for the creation of a single Arctic portal covering all Arctic initiatives and activities of the EU institutions;

7. Notes that interest in the Arctic and its resources is growing; is deeply concerned about the negative effects of climate change, notably the rapidly melting ice and resource overexploitation, which create new elements and realities for certain forms of economic development and further disruption to the increasingly fragile Arctic ecosystems;

8. Emphasises that the comprehensive governance model based on international law has benefited all Arctic states and the region as a whole, and has provided predictability and stability in the region; underlines that the existing regional structures foster trust and cooperation between Arctic states; stresses that the Arctic states hold the primary responsibility for tackling issues within their territories; points, however, to the fact that external forces have a key impact on current and future challenges in the region; reiterates that international law is the cornerstone of the legal framework regulating international relations in the Arctic, and underlines the importance of the UNCLOS as the basis of all maritime activity, and particularly Part XV thereof, with regard to the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes and the different dispute resolution procedures for the delimitation of the Arctic continental shelf and for settling intra-Arctic sovereignty issues as regards territorial seas; repeats its call for the EU and the Member States to play a stronger role in the effective implementation of international conventions and calls on the US to ratify the UNCLOS; also underlines the importance of the international bodies established under the UNCLOS, including the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), as well as of platforms such as the Arctic Council, the Conference of Arctic Parliamentarians, the Barents Euro-Arctic-Council, the Northern Dimension and the United Nations, and remains committed to a strong and active participation in parliamentary cooperation on Arctic matters;

9. Recognises the status of Arctic states’ sovereignty and their sovereign rights in accordance with international law; believes that safeguarding the achievements of three decades of peaceful cooperation is crucial; stresses that the EU’s capacity to provide solutions to potential security challenges should be fully harnessed; underlines that, given the multitude of complex and intertwined issues related to the economic, environmental and security development of the Arctic, global, regional and local venues are required for dialogue on the region’s security needs;

Climate change in the Arctic

10. Expresses deep concern at the findings of the IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, according to which over the past decades global warming has led to the widespread shrinking of the cryosphere, with mass loss from ice sheets and glaciers, reductions in snow cover and Arctic sea ice extent and thickness, and increased permafrost temperature; is highly concerned about the public health and security consequences of thawing permafrost, laying bare bacteria and viruses that have been dormant for centuries or millennia;

11. Stresses that the Arctic is losing biodiversity at an alarming rate, and expresses deep concern about the findings of the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; underscores that biodiversity loss is due not only to climate change, but also to ocean mining, which the IPBES notes is likely to expand in the Arctic region as it melts;

12. Is worried by reports that bacteria released by thawing permafrost release climate-damaging carbon, but also, together with viruses, may pose a serious health threat to animals and humans; notes that climate change and melting permafrost are having deleterious impacts on the ability to live and work in the region, as both have led to the loss or degradation of existing infrastructure, roads and buildings, as well as a spate of industrial and transportation accidents, and also threaten cultural and heritage sites and the way of life of indigenous peoples;

13. Stresses that the EU should pursue policies that ensure that measures to address environmental concerns take into account the interests of the inhabitants of the Arctic region, including its indigenous peoples, in protecting and developing the region;

14. Urges the EU to take a leading role in the work to forge an ambitious climate action plan for the Arctic, addressing global greenhouse gas emission mitigation and adaption to climate change, while supporting innovative solutions relevant to the Arctic;

Geopolitical developments in the Arctic

15. Welcomes the fact that the stability of the Arctic has long remained relatively unaffected by conflicts in other areas of the world and underlines the importance of preventing spill-over effects in the Arctic from geopolitical developments in other regions; notes, however, that the security and military situation in the Arctic has changed fundamentally in recent years, and recognises the region’s strategic importance; notes that a safe, stable, sustainable, peaceful and prosperous Arctic plays a crucial role for the wider security of Europe and its strategic context; highlights, furthermore, that military activity in the region needs to be predictable, transparent and carried out in a way that promotes security and stability, as increased militarisation, combined with worsened geopolitical relations globally, can lead to incidents and increased security risks; calls, accordingly, for enhanced regional dialogue, cross-border cooperation and restraint in the military sphere, and encourages a process of negotiations and confidence-building measures aimed at the long-term objective of a reduction in military equipment in the region;

16. Notes the particular geographical situation of the Russian Federation, whose territorial waters and economic zones far exceed those of all other Arctic states; stresses, in this respect, that Russia’s specific geographic features make it an interlocutor by default, but also give it increased responsibility;

17. Notes the Arctic’s prominent place in the military strategies of all actors engaged in the region and urges them to enact their Arctic policies with full respect for international law; expresses grave concern about the progressive military build-up pursued by Russia, which has been the most extensive among the Arctic states and includes the development of A2/AD capabilities, and the reactivation and rebuilding of sea-based nuclear forces and a fleet of icebreakers, some of which Russia is planning to equip with cruise missiles and electronic warfare systems; considers that such actions are not justified by the military situation on the ground and significantly exceed legitimate defensive purposes, thus reflecting Russia’s will to achieve strategic military superiority in the region, which would lead to instability and an increased risk of confrontation and deviate from the 1987 Murmansk Initiative, which aimed to transform the Arctic into an international ‘zone of peace’; urges the circumpolar nations not to build military or scientific outposts protected by military forces;

18. Regrets that Russia, instead of emphasising the benefits of cooperative engagement, has adopted a much more competitive, even confrontational, perspective on the Arctic, taking the view of the Arctic as a sphere of military, territorial and economic expansion, and an arena for its great power ambition;

19. Calls on all Arctic states to engage in a constructive and mutually beneficial dialogue on all issues ranging from the protection of the environment to economic development and military operations; underlines that the EU and Russia have substantial common interests in a number of areas related to the Arctic, including in the field of maritime security and cross-border cooperation on environmental issues; stresses, however, that constructive cooperation should be consistent with the principle of selective engagement, including in the areas of the climate and the environment, should not jeopardise the purpose of sanctions and restrictive measures adopted as a result of the Russian Government’s actions in other parts of the world, and should be coherent with the EU strategy towards the Russian Federation; notes that the Arctic Council should be seen as a platform to maintain and continue open dialogue with Russia on matters that are also of importance for the EU;

20. Considers that the inclusion of the Arctic by China in its economic development programmes, with the aspiration of integrating the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route into its Belt and Road Initiative (as a ‘Polar Silk Road’), needs to be closely observed by the EU and factored into its updated Arctic policy, as it challenges any idea that the Arctic could be dealt with as a self-contained region, shielded from global geopolitics; notes, in this regard, China’s investments in research, new icebreakers and strategic infrastructure projects in the Arctic, which are reminiscent of how the country operates in other parts of the world, and recalls that the EU should avoid losing important ground to third countries in this field; expresses concern over China’s investment attempts in the seaports along the Northern Sea Route and its attempts to obtain mining rights, inter alia, as a way to establish its presence in the Arctic, and urges the Arctic states to carry out a thorough screening of foreign investments in their entities and infrastructure of strategic importance;

Safeguarding freedom of navigation

21. Welcomes the adoption and entry into force on 1 January 2017 of the IMO’s International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code);

22. Calls for an assessment of the implementation of the IMO’s Polar Code, as well as of that of the standards and obligations under the SOLAS and MARPOL conventions, to ascertain whether they have been fully implemented by the entities operating in the Arctic and to identify gaps and weaknesses to be further addressed; urges all Arctic coastal states to swiftly take the measures necessary to fully enforce the Polar Code; encourages non-SOLAS ships to voluntarily implement those safety measures and to follow other measures and guidance for safe and environmentally friendly navigation and operation in the Arctic;

23. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take a stronger role in promoting the effective implementation of international conventions such as the Paris Agreement, the Minamata Convention, the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Gothenburg Protocol, the Stockholm Convention, the Polar Code, the Aarhus Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity;

24. Urges a shared responsibility for the safety of life at sea and the sustainability of polar environments as polar shipping grows in volume and diversifies in nature over the coming years; welcomes, in this respect, in addition to the Polar Code, ship routing measures aimed at reducing the risk of incidents, as well as no-go zones to improve the safety of navigation and protect the fragile and unique environment; emphasises the role of the EU and its Member States in helping to prevent and resolve conflicts in the Arctic, helping to build civilian security mechanisms, and enhancing crisis management capacities and search and rescue infrastructures; highlights that the EU can contribute expertise in the area of maritime security and safety, through its capabilities in and awareness of shipping and navigation; acknowledges that there is already significant cross-border cooperation on search and rescue operations; encourages the EU to enhance its contributions to emergency prevention, preparedness and disaster response within the Arctic Council, the Arctic Coast Guard Forum and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council; notes with concern, however, the developing and fast-growing naval traffic and energy extraction along the Northern Sea Route, which has become a source of geopolitical tensions and environmental concerns; notes the increasing economic interest in developing the North Sea Route, notably from Russia and China, as a means to boost economic growth and as a globally competitive national transport network; notes the development of large-scale energy projects, such as the current Russian-Chinese cooperation on the Yamal LNG project and Arctic LNG 2, and is concerned that such projects significantly increase shipping volumes via the North Sea Route and imply substantial pressure on an Arctic ecosystem already under threat;

25. Recognises Russia’s large numerical advantage in and China’s development of icebreaker programmes and encourages Member States and other partner countries to build their own capacities in this regard; considers that the EU should promote the construction and deployment of more icebreakers and ice-strengthened ships under an EU flag;

26. Underlines the need to enhance maritime surveillance and information sharing in the Arctic region; supports further investments in space monitoring and navigation, through the Copernicus and Galileo satellite networks, as well as in-situ information from the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) in order to improve emergency response, safe navigation and knowledge of climate change; notes that increasing human activity in the region, including growing tourism, raises serious concerns relating to human security, particularly in the context of harsh weather conditions and limited search and rescue (SAR) capabilities; is of the opinion that international cooperation, as well as close partnerships between the military, public and non-governmental sectors, are essential in order to provide adequate civilian protection in the region; underlines the need to promote and exchange best practices in terms of SAR and contribute to the interoperability of SAR units through joint exercises; recommends that Member States consider creating new Permanent Structured Cooperation projects, for example concentrated on SAR or environmental response, which aim to enhance common security and defence policy capabilities in the Arctic; encourages the EU and Member States to perform exercises simulating how the Civil Protection Mechanism may be broadly implemented in the Arctic;

27. Insists that it is crucial that foreign ships’ rights under the UNCLOS, in particular Articles 17-21 and 37-41 thereof, including the right of innocent passage, the right of transit passage and the freedom of navigation, are fully respected in the Arctic; condemns Russian actions that restrict navigation rights in the Northern Sea routes by designating them as internal waters under its complete sovereign control, by creating regulatory and administrative barriers to foreign navigation along the route and imposing a requirement to obtain Russia’s permission to enter and transit through its exclusive economic zone and territorial seas, and by failing to set out any express exemption for sovereign immune vessels; stresses that any measure restricting navigational freedoms should be consistent with the UNCLOS and with customary international law; calls on the Russian Federation to comply with the rules codified in the UNCLOS and respect the commitments made by joining in annual calls by the UN General Assembly for States Parties to ensure that their maritime claims conform to the UNCLOS;

28. Underlines that the development of northern transport passages should be sustainable and contribute to a greener transition; notes that, specifically, new northern rail links would stimulate the economies of the northern and Baltic states and improve the North-South dimension of market access; calls on the Commission, therefore, to address northern transport issues and identify opportunities in the context of the Northern Dimension Partnership for Transport and Logistics (NDPTL); underlines that better links are needed within the Northern Dimension region to reduce remoteness and ensure connectivity in response to global development;

Sustainable development and exploitation of strategic resources

29. Underlines the importance of the Arctic for EU energy security, strongly insists on the sustainable, science-based exploitation of energy resources in the Arctic, and highlights the need for an enhanced policy for EU-generated renewable energies and energy efficiency that significantly reduces the Union’s reliance on external sources and thereby improves its position in terms of security; stresses the need to fight climate change by keeping to the goals of the Paris Agreement;

30. Notes that, as a result of climate change and the resulting reduction of ice, the increased accessibility of the enormous hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic region is changing the geo-strategic importance of the region, with potential consequences for international stability; calls on the states in the region to continue to resolve any current or future conflicts over access to natural resources in the Arctic by way of a constructive dialogue in line with international law, namely the UNCLOS, and in the spirit of the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration;

31. Recognises the environmental risk that oil and gas exploitation in the Arctic represents; stresses that Arctic economic development, in particular the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in the Arctic, should adhere to international law as well as relevant international conventions and rules, and comply with stringent precautionary environmental standards, and calls for the establishment of strict requirements for exploring and exploiting new hydrocarbon reserves in the region; is concerned, in this respect, by the attempts, notably by Russia, as well as private enterprises from other countries, to pursue far-reaching and highly impactful exploitation projects without appropriate assessment of their environmental impacts; urges all Arctic states, therefore, to ensure appropriate ex ante assessment of the environmental impact of any exploitation projects and underlines the importance of abiding by regulatory standards;

32. Stresses that the protection of the environment and the management of man-made pollution should be a key objective in the Arctic; discourages the exploitation of Arctic resources if it is scientifically proven to cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem of the Arctic and beyond;

33. Welcomes the work of the Arctic Council in tackling pollution in the Arctic and calls for the EU to play an active role and provide assistance in this regard;

34. Is highly concerned about the recent environmental catastrophe caused by Norilsk Nickel, resulting in the largest ever oil spill in the polar Arctic, but also toxic wastewater being pumped from a settling basin into the tundra, and other spills that occur regularly and yet remain absent from official statistics; welcomes the court decisions to fine the company responsible for the disaster, but at the same time expresses its concern about restricted access for journalists and experts to the accident sites, and calls on the Russian authorities to develop transparent and effective procedures for reporting and tracking such environmental disasters; regrets that such accidents often occur on the lands of indigenous peoples, which leads to the loss of their ability to continue their traditional way of life; calls for the EU to support environmental rights defenders and journalists investigating such cases and to use its own assets, such as Copernicus, to track such pollution in the Arctic and conduct a thorough assessment of the ecological and human consequences of exploitation solely for profit; encourages cooperation with the Arctic states in developing rapid response systems for the real-time management of environmental disasters, in particular oil spills;

35. Regrets the fact that Russian companies continue to cut back to a bare minimum their investment in environmental protection and production facilities in order to obtain the maximum profit in the shortest time possible, resulting in the persistent emission of toxic substances into the atmosphere, which has devastated not only the environment but also most Arctic towns, such as Norilsk, making them among the world’s most polluted cities;

36. Is of the opinion that the Arctic should play a central role in the European Raw Materials Alliance, boosting Europe’s output of critical minerals, cutting dependence on China for rare-earth metals and developing opportunities for green economic growth, which is key for the further development of green technology and the fight against climate change, which constitutes the main threat to the region; is of the opinion that decisions by local authorities on the excavation of mineral resources should be taken transparently; welcomes initiatives in the European Arctic on sustainable mining and reducing carbon dioxide emissions through, for example, the world’s first fossil-free iron production project, HYBRIT, taking into account the increasing demand for steel and the needs of an increasingly electrifying society;

37. Notes that the Arctic is rich in mineral resources, and underlines that the European Arctic plays an important role for the EU’s supply of raw materials, with, inter alia,  essential resources, technology and know-how necessary to achieve digital and green transitions; notes that most of the EU’s critical raw materials are located in the Arctic, which, if managed in a proper and sustainable way, could strengthen the EU’s autonomy; takes note of the fact that one of the factors driving Beijing to gain control over the Arctic’s reserves is the desire to maintain a dominant position in the supply chains of vital resources and key components of emerging technologies;

38. Calls for an increase in the accessibility of digital infrastructure in the Arctic, thereby promoting entrepreneurship and innovation and diversifying economic development; underscores the importance of promoting the use of renewable energy in remote Arctic communities; encourages further work on innovative energy solutions and related capacity construction in the Arctic with a view to climate change prevention, taking into account the needs of society; stresses the strategic importance of the submarine telecommunication cables in the North Atlantic, which provide over 95 % of international telecommunications; reiterates the importance of strengthened transatlantic cooperation in protecting and ensuring respect for the international instruments that govern submarine cables, including the UNCLOS; emphasises the role that the Arctic plays with regard to its climatological and geographic competitive advantage in digital connectivity between North America, Europe and Asia, and as a location for centres for data storage; notes that new digital highways through extended fibre optic cable systems and infrastructure should also enable better digital connectivity for Arctic communities, as well as healthcare support and social services (e.g. telehealth services), online education, and overall easier access to the global economy;

39. Acknowledges the underinvestment in the Arctic region; believes that the EU can contribute to economic, social and sustainable development to the benefit of Arctic communities, in particular in energy, transport and infrastructure; considers that the Arctic regions are home to innovative industries essential to sustainable development;

40. Stresses that long distances, sparsely populated areas, a harsh climate and demographic imbalances mean that increasing the connectivity, accessibility and integration of communities through investment in information and communication technologies and transport infrastructures (by rail, sea, land and air) is crucial in order to improve productivity and trade within and beyond the Arctic; believes that better transport and broadband connectivity will also enhance opportunities for cross-border labour and student mobility, and the further extension of cooperation; emphasises the usefulness of place-based instruments, such as smart specialisation strategies and territorial cooperation, for tailoring sustainable investments in the Arctic, and believes that these EU policies should be further developed and linked to the EU Arctic policy; calls for the establishment of a special investment platform which would facilitate closer economic cooperation between the EU and Arctic economies, in collaboration with the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund;

41. Notes the role of the private sector in developing sustainable solutions for the Arctic; calls on the Commission to support European companies’ investments in key sectors such as renewable energy production, logistics and the development of the power grid, while identifying investment opportunities under the EU’s investment and funding instruments in order to facilitate European companies’ access to the Arctic market; highlights the importance of trade and investments in digital infrastructure, innovation and economic development in the Arctic, with closer cooperation between governments, academia and business; calls for the EU to reduce technical barriers to trade and strengthen its cooperation with business representatives, and encourages further support to the Arctic Economic Council; insists that companies based in or operating within the EU strictly comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in relation to all their business operations and relationships with the Arctic region and ensure effective human rights and environmental due diligence processes; calls on these entities to ensure effective, meaningful and informed consultations at all stages of the process with stakeholders both affected and potentially affected, including indigenous peoples; stresses that economic activities in the Arctic should be sustainable and should take into consideration their environmental impact, in particular on climate change, and their social implications; stresses the need for the further promotion of sustainable regional development for the benefit of those living in the Arctic, low-carbon activities, knowledge and the circular economy;

42. Supports, as a general rule, the view expressed in the CAO Fisheries Agreement that the exploitation of natural resources should take place only where there is reasonable certainty that no harm will be caused to the environment and underlines the importance of implementing a precautionary approach to Arctic and sub-Arctic fisheries at all stages; stresses the importance of fisheries management measures based on the best available scientific advice to ensure long-term sustainability; notes that the Arctic coastal states have agreed on a framework for managing activities in the Arctic, including committing to settle overlapping claims to maritime areas; expresses its support for existing regional fisheries management organisations and global agreements relating to fisheries, shipping and the marine environment; stresses that the EU should be involved in stock management in accordance with the UNCLOS;

43. Notes that the EU receives a large share of its fish imports from the Arctic and is aware that disputes around fisheries are likely to increase, inter alia as a result of the depletion of fish stocks in some areas and their migration to other areas, partially driven by climate change; welcomes the signing, therefore, of the CAO Fisheries Agreement, which aims to achieve sustainable development in the Arctic and will implement a precautionary approach to fisheries management in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean, and calls for its swift entry into force; recognises the importance of the Oslo Declaration in achieving this binding agreement on the prevention of unregulated high seas fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean; welcomes the inclusion of representatives of indigenous organisations in the delegations; regrets, however, that their participation and that of NGOs was solely observational;

Serving local communities and preserving the rights of indigenous peoples

44. Welcomes the achievements made, but recalls that in most Nordic countries Arctic averages remain worse than national averages in terms of poverty, low life expectancy and very limited human and economic development; is aware that technological transformation and climate change are affecting the traditional lifestyle and way of life of indigenous peoples and consequently reiterates its call for the active involvement of all the communities and inhabitants of the Arctic, and particularly indigenous peoples, who hold local and practical knowledge, in decision-making processes concerning development choices; strongly supports, in this respect, the full and effective implementation of Article 19 of the UNDRIP, especially as regards the need to obtain indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures or launching development projects that may affect them;

45. Recognises that the effects of melting ice and milder temperatures are displacing indigenous populations and thereby threatening the indigenous way of life; acknowledges the wish of the inhabitants and governments of the Arctic region with sovereign rights and responsibilities to continue to pursue sustainable economic development while at the same time protecting traditional sources of indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and the very sensitive nature of Arctic ecosystems, taking into account their experience in using and developing the various resources of the region in a sustainable way;

46. Stresses the need to ensure the preservation of indigenous peoples’ cultures, traditions and languages by establishing capacity building programmes to increase awareness about the diversity, history and the rights of indigenous peoples, not only for indigenous youths but also for non-indigenous populations across the region; calls on EU delegations in the Arctic states to engage in a genuine and inclusive dialogue with indigenous peoples at national and regional levels and to serve as focal points on indigenous peoples’ issues; highlights the need for the staff of these EU delegations to be versed in indigenous peoples’ rights, as affirmed under UNDRIP; welcomes the growing acknowledgement of the rights of indigenous peoples in the EU’s external policies; calls for enhanced coherence between the EU’s internal and external Arctic policies in this area;

47. Reiterates its call to actively involve all the inhabitants of the Arctic, who hold local and practical knowledge, and particularly indigenous peoples, in decision-making processes concerning development choices;

48. Expresses its regret at the Russian Government’s efforts to subordinate civil society, which is having a very negative impact on indigenous peoples by limiting the autonomy of their representations and partnerships in international forums, blocking access to external funds; notes that similar problems affect other NGOs, including environmental activists;

49. States that all activities in the Arctic region, including management and sustainable use of Arctic natural resources, should respect the rights of and benefit indigenous peoples and other local inhabitants; advocates, in this regard, for a stronger link between businesses operating in the Arctic and local communities in order to create economic and research opportunities and jobs, and foster the sustainable development of resources, and supports the implementation of standards such as the Arctic Investment Protocol and the UN Global Compact Initiative; recalls the existing international instruments that establish states’ jurisdictions, rights and obligations for the management and sustainable use of natural resources and insists that these instruments continue to be fully respected; stresses the importance of ensuring people-to-people cooperation, access to education and business opportunities and support for young people in the Arctic;

50. Highlights the importance of addressing the aspirations, needs and challenges faced by local populations, notably in terms of people-to-people cooperation, connectivity, access to the internet, education, healthcare and employment, particularly for young people and marginalised groups; highlights the need for the updated Arctic policy to incorporate an ambitious gender dimension; calls for the funding of programmes such as ‘north2north’ and other mobility programmes directed especially towards young people living in the Arctic to be strengthened, and for greater support and resources to help the peoples of the Arctic adapt to the profound changes driven by climate change;

51. Reiterates its call on all the remaining Member States to ratify without delay ILO Convention No 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples;

Science and knowledge

52. Calls on Arctic states to meet their commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity, in particular with regard to in-situ conservation; calls on all states to ensure that indigenous peoples and local communities of the Artic are included in the deliberation and decision-making processes of the relevant international climate and biodiversity diplomacy forums; supports the recommendation of indigenous peoples to have direct access to funds from the Green Climate Fund for their sustainable mitigation and adaptation initiatives;

53. Underlines the important contributions from the EU and its Member States to polar science, which will be necessary to understand the global and local effects of climate change and the importance of knowledge as a fundament for political decisions and sustainable development in the Arctic; reiterates the call from the 14th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region to strengthen the knowledge base and improve scientific cooperation with a new International Polar Year initiative; supports international efforts on science, knowledge and innovation with an Arctic dimension, and cooperation on research in the Arctic, such as the conclusion and implementation of the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation;

54. Notes that the EU has been a major financial contributor to Arctic research through programmes such as Horizon 2020; stresses the need to increase EU funding for Arctic research and development; calls for greater visibility for and coordination of Arctic-oriented research and innovation, including in Horizon Europe; calls on the Commission to provide a comprehensive overview of EU funding dedicated to the region and the Arctic components of horizontal EU programmes and urges the EU to implement an ambitious, forward-looking and environmentally sustainable investment plan for the Arctic; believes that such a plan should increase funding in key areas such as scientific research and allocate more funding to Arctic research, development and innovation, space, digital and transport infrastructure, space technologies, sustainable shipping, sustainable extraction and processing of raw materials, renewable energy and other low-carbon activities, and tourism; highlights the need for improved synergies between existing financing instruments in order to prevent possible duplications, and to maximise interaction between internal and external EU programmes;

55. Notes that the Arctic offers huge potential for innovation and sustainable use of resources, developing practices which can thereafter be implemented globally, and that it is a test-bed for, among other things, geothermal, wind and hydro projects, the carbon-free production of steel, and greener battery production; recognises the contribution of EU space programmes such as Copernicus, Galileo, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service and satellite communications to environmental, maritime and human safety and security in the Arctic through enabling, along other things, the monitoring of ice evolution and the sustainable management of marine resources, the detection of pollution, emergency warning systems, the identification and tracking of maritime movements, and search and rescue services; supports continuous investment in the development of these capabilities and advises that they be applied in the Arctic in cooperation with and under the leadership of the Arctic states that are members of the EU and/or NATO;

More EU in the Arctic, more Arctic in the EU

56. Welcomes the creation of a Special Envoy for Arctic Matters in 2017; supports the continuation of his mandate and commends the work carried out by the current Special Envoy; calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to improve inter-service cooperation and coherence between different programmes and investments in the Arctic and urges them to allocate adequate resources to reflect the ambition of the EU’s Arctic policy; urges the Commission to establish a specific working group covering northern Europe and the Arctic in a comprehensive manner; notes that the EU’s internal coordination on Arctic matters should be strengthened both at Commission working group level and between the relevant EU agencies; encourages the Commission to entrust a coordinating role for Arctic policies to one of its Vice-Presidents so as to avoid duplication of competences; calls on the Council to create a working party on northern Europe and the Arctic, and on the EEAS to create a similar unit within its structures; is of the opinion that the role of Parliament should be strengthened in the EU’s Arctic policy formulation and implementation, and that the Arctic should be given more prominence in Parliament, including through the establishment of a specifically designated inter-parliamentary delegation with special responsibility for Arctic cooperation; calls for a broader debate on Arctic issues within the other EU institutions and in the Member States;

57. Believes that the consultation process around the new EU Arctic policy should be used to assess the effectiveness of the EU’s current policies;

58. Is of the opinion that the EU as a global actor should actively engage in policy dialogue, react to the growing strategic importance of the Arctic and continue to play its role as an accepted and credible actor in the Arctic, respecting the unique set of existing Arctic consultative forums and successful governance framework mechanisms; believes that the EU may serve as an honest broker in promoting regional stability and prosperity; calls for the EU to continue dialogue and confidence building measures in the existing multilateral frameworks and to include the Arctic as a priority in the EU Global Strategy; calls furthermore for an Arctic-specific connectivity policy (digitalisation, navigation, logistics, transport); strongly believes that the European Green Deal provides a much-needed long-term response to the growing challenges of climate change through an amplified investment agenda for sustainable growth and local innovative initiatives in particular, and will contribute significantly to the solution of the EU’s strategic energy dependence; calls, with that in mind, for the integration of the EU Arctic policy dimension into the European Green Deal, the EU Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024, the EU Global Strategy, the EU connectivity strategy and the EU biodiversity strategy;

59. Stresses the need for the EU and its Member States to maintain constructive relations with all non-European Arctic states and underlines the need for the EU to pursue and promote a rights-based approach in its engagement with the indigenous peoples of the Arctic; stresses the importance for the EU Arctic states of more extensively sharing information about the current challenges in the region, improving their hybrid warfare capabilities, continuing to invest in defence, improving coherence with regard to current activities in the Arctic and jointly developing maritime and air domains; invites the EU and its Member States to cooperate more closely on Arctic issues in regional and international forums and calls for the EU to involve local and regional levels of governance to a greater extent in the development of its policies affecting the region;

60. Is of the opinion that the best reply to growing Sino-Russian cooperation in the Arctic is greater coordination at EU level, as well as consultations with EEA countries, the US and Canada, as well as the UK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and other partners committed to securing peaceful cooperation and freedom of navigation in the Arctic and to making the most of possible synergies;

61. Takes note of the US’ Arctic Security Initiative (ASI) and Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework and encourages the EU to partner with its like-minded allies where appropriate in order to ensure proper coordination in the region; calls, in this regard, for a robust EU-Arctic dialogue in support of the implementation of the EU’s policy towards the Arctic;

62. Is of the opinion that issues of security in the Arctic should also be part of consultations and cooperation with NATO, which can use the framework of the NATO-Russia Council to resolve misunderstandings, de-escalate tensions and prevent crises; recognises the importance of surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the region and of the establishment of mechanisms to enhance information sharing; believes that prior notification on military exercises in the Arctic region could increase transparency on military activities in the region;

63. Notes that the High North falls within the area of responsibility of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and that cooperation with NATO is necessary in order to construct an overarching security concept for the Arctic; with that in mind, welcomes the conclusions of the reflection group tasked by the NATO Secretary-General with undertaking a forward-looking reflection process to assess ways to strengthen the political dimension of the NATO alliance, whereby NATO should enhance its situational awareness across the High North and the Arctic and should develop a strategy that takes into account broader deterrence and defence plans, including provisions for addressing aggressive moves by state actors;

64. Notes that the 2018 Trident Juncture exercise, which demonstrated that NATO is operationally active in the Arctic, especially in the High North (the Norwegian and Barents seas), ensured the highest level of transparency; calls on all parties that conduct military activities in the Artic to follow such practices, in line with international obligations, including the OSCE Vienna Document, thus reducing risks, clarifying possible misunderstandings and building transparency of intentions;

65. Supports the efforts to strengthen resilience from potential pressure coming from China or other actors that do not prioritise environmentally friendly and sustainable methods of mineral extraction that respect international norms and UN conventions; calls on the East StratCom Task Force of the EEAS to monitor campaigns aimed at influencing decision-making processes regarding the extractions of minerals in the region;

66. Stresses the need for the EU and the US to jointly promote security and stability in the Arctic while investing in and expanding their permanent scientific presence in the region;

67. Calls for the Arctic to be included in discussions on the EU’s Strategic Compass and stresses that Arctic development should also be regularly addressed at the Political and Security Committee and during Council meetings; calls for more regular exchanges of views on Arctic issues as an important area of EU-NATO consultations;

68. Calls for increased visibility of the EU in the Arctic and for the EU to establish an enhanced political dialogue on bilateral cooperation with the Faroe Islands and Greenland and to consider, together with the Danish authorities, the possibility of he establishment of EU offices in Greenland and the Faroe Islands;

69. Calls for the aims of the new Arctic strategy to be reflected in the EU’s programmes with dedicated funding, projects and relevant legislation, as well as in the work of the relevant EU agencies;

70. Takes the view that the EU maritime strategy should be updated to reflect new opportunities and challenges; believes that similar assessments and reviews should be carried out on other EU policies, including EU space policy in order to assess the expansion of existing satellite programmes to cover the Arctic region’s specific needs, including the use of Copernicus to track pollution;


° °

71. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Alviina Alametsä, Alexander Alexandrov Yordanov, Maria Arena, Petras Auštrevičius, Traian Băsescu, Anna Bonfrisco, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Susanna Ceccardi, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Tanja Fajon, Anna Fotyga, Michael Gahler, Sunčana Glavak, Raphaël Glucksmann, Klemen Grošelj, Bernard Guetta, Márton Gyöngyösi, Sandra Kalniete, Dietmar Köster, Stelios Kouloglou, Maximilian Krah, Andrius Kubilius, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, David Lega, Miriam Lexmann, Nathalie Loiseau, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Claudiu Manda, Lukas Mandl, Thierry Mariani, David McAllister, Vangelis Meimarakis, Sven Mikser, Francisco José Millán Mon, Javier Nart, Urmas Paet, Demetris Papadakis, Kostas Papadakis, Tonino Picula, Manu Pineda, Giuliano Pisapia, Thijs Reuten, Jérôme Rivière, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Nacho Sánchez Amor, Isabel Santos, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Andreas Schieder, Radosław Sikorski, Jordi Solé, Sergei Stanishev, Tineke Strik, Hermann Tertsch, Hilde Vautmans, Harald Vilimsky, Idoia Villanueva Ruiz, Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, Witold Jan Waszczykowski, Charlie Weimers, Isabel Wiseler-Lima, Salima Yenbou, Željana Zovko

Substitutes present for the final vote

Ioan-Rareş Bogdan, Markéta Gregorová, Rasa Juknevičienė, Arba Kokalari, Hannah Neumann, Mick Wallace







Anna Fotyga, Jacek Saryusz‑Wolski, Hermann Tertsch, Witold Jan Waszczykowski, Charlie Weimers


Anna Bonfrisco, Susanna Ceccardi


Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Márton Gyöngyösi


Alexander Alexandrov Yordanov, Ioan‑Rareş Bogdan, Traian Băsescu, Michael Gahler, Sunčana Glavak, Rasa Juknevičienė, Sandra Kalniete, Arba Kokalari, Andrius Kubilius, David Lega, Miriam Lexmann, Antonio López‑Istúriz White, Lukas Mandl, David McAllister, Vangelis Meimarakis, Francisco José Millán Mon, Radosław Sikorski, Isabel Wiseler‑Lima, Željana Zovko


Petras Auštrevičius, Klemen Grošelj, Bernard Guetta, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Nathalie Loiseau, Javier Nart, Urmas Paet, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Hilde Vautmans


Maria Arena, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Tanja Fajon, Raphaël Glucksmann, Dietmar Köster, Claudiu Manda, Sven Mikser, Demetris Papadakis, Tonino Picula, Giuliano Pisapia, Thijs Reuten, Isabel Santos, Andreas Schieder, Sergei Stanishev, Nacho Sánchez Amor





Maximilian Krah, Thierry Mariani, Jérôme Rivière


Kostas Papadakis


Manu Pineda, Mick Wallace





Harald Vilimsky


Stelios Kouloglou, Idoia Villanueva Ruiz


Alviina Alametsä, Markéta Gregorová, Hannah Neumann, Jordi Solé, Tineke Strik, Viola Von Cramon‑Taubadel, Salima Yenbou


Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

- : against

0 : abstention



Last updated: 22 September 2021
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