Motion for a resolution - B7-0231/2014Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the EU strategy for the Arctic

5.3.2014 - (2013/2595(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Charles Tannock, Konrad Szymański on behalf of the ECR Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0229/2014

Procedure : 2013/2595(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the UE strategy for the Arctic


The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous reports and resolutions on the Arctic, in particular its resolution of 20 January 2011 on ‘A sustainable EU policy for the High North’[1], and to the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee report of 28 October 2013 on Arctic policy,

–       having regard to the joint communication of the Commission and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 26 June 2012 entitled ‘Developing a European Union policy towards the Arctic region: progress since 2008 and next steps’ (JOIN(2012)0019), and to the accompanying staff working documents entitled ‘Inventory of activities in the framework of developing a European Union Arctic Policy’ (SWD(2012)0182) and ‘Space and the Arctic’ (SWD(2012)0183),

–       having regard to the new and updated national strategies and policy papers concerning Arctic issues from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Greenland, Norway, Russia, the USA, Canada and the UK, respectively,

–       having regard to the conference statement of the 10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, which took place from 5 to 7 September 2012 in Akureyri,

–       having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas the joint communication of the Commission and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 26 June 2012 constitutes a further step in responding to Parliament’s call for the formulation of a coherent EU Arctic policy;

B.     whereas Parliament has been an active participant in the work of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, through its Delegation for relations with Switzerland and Norway and to the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee and the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Parliamentary Committee;

C.     whereas Denmark, Finland and Sweden are Arctic countries and both Finland and Sweden are partially located within the Arctic Circle; whereas the EU’s only indigenous people, the Sami, live in the Arctic regions of Finland and Sweden as well as in Norway and Russia;

D.     whereas Norway, as a reliable partner, is associated with the EU through the EEA and the Schengen Agreement;

E.     whereas the decision of the Arctic Council in Kiruna to ‘affirmatively receive’ the EU’s application for observer status is being interpreted in different ways as to the extent to which the EU is granted this status as an observer in the Arctic Council;

F.     whereas the EU and its Member States make a major contribution to research in the Arctic, and whereas EU programmes support major research projects in the region, benefiting not least the peoples and economies of the Arctic countries;

G.     whereas the growing interest in the Arctic region among non-Arctic actors such as China, Japan, India and other Asian nations, their allocation of funding to polar research and, not least, the confirmation of South Korea, China, Japan, India and Singapore as observers to the Arctic Council indicate an increasing geopolitical appreciation of the Arctic on a global scale;

1.      Recalls the adoption of its resolution of 20 January 2011 on a sustainable EU policy for the High North, and welcomes the joint communication of the Commission and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 26 June 2012; reaffirms its position that, with three EU Member States – Denmark, Finland and Sweden – being Arctic states and Norway and Iceland being part of the EEA and the Schengen area, the EU has a legitimate interest by virtue of its rights and obligations under international law, its commitment to environmental, climate and other policies and its funding, research activities and economic interests, including in the areas of shipping and the development of natural resources; recalls, moreover, that the EU has large Arctic land areas in Finland and Sweden, inhabited by the only indigenous population group in the EU, the Sami;

2.      Takes note of the Arctic Council’s Kiruna Declaration of May 2013 and of its decision on observer status for the EU and other state entities, and urges the Commission to follow up on remaining issues with Canada and duly to inform Parliament of that process;

3.      Supports the Commission’s work on achieving observer status in the Arctic Council; recalls the status of the EU and its Member States, not as observers but as active members in other organisations of relevance to the Arctic, such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and highlights the need to refocus the EU institutions’ activities on those fields of relevance to the political or economic interests of the EU and its Member States, and in particular to bear in mind the interests of the EU and its Member States when utilising, amending and developing EU programmes or policies that do or can affect, and thus also serve, the Arctic;

4.      Underlines the importance of the Member States’ polar and research stations in the Arctic and recalls the contributions that the EU is making to research and development and the engagement of economic actors registered and active under EU laws, in the Arctic region;

5.      Strongly advocates freedom of scientific research in the Arctic and encourages broad cooperation between the states active in the field of multidisciplinary Arctic research and in establishing research infrastructures;

6.      Asks the Commission, in view of the huge number of scientific, economic and civic activities, in particular in the European Arctic, the Barents region and beyond, to develop practices aimed at better utilising existing EU funding and ensuring a proper balance in protecting and developing the Arctic region when channelling EU funds towards the Arctic;

7.      Welcomes the implementation of the Search and Rescue Agreement and the Oil Spill Response Agreement by Arctic Council members and calls for the active engagement of European institutes and businesses in the implementation process;

8.      Welcomes the new Arctic strategies recently published by EU Member States which are members of the Arctic Council, namely Finland, Denmark and Sweden, as well as by observer states such as Germany and the UK, and expresses its hope that updated strategies will lead not only to a more realistic understanding but also to concrete engagement in the Arctic, thereby highlighting the need to take account of common EU policies and programmes affecting the Arctic;

9.      Asks the Commission to develop closer cooperation with Iceland in fields of common interest, such as the development of maritime transport and renewable energy, making full use of existing instruments and encouraging research and business cooperation between European and Icelandic actors, in particular in view of the increasing activities of Chinese actors, making sure that European interests do not fall short in this strategically important region;

10.    Suggests, further, better aligning existing programmes as well as contributions to funding the Northern Dimension in order to enable the efficient channelling of funding and to clearly define investment priorities for engagement with the Arctic region; urges for the setting-up of a Commission-External Action Service (EEAS) platform with responsibility for ensuring the coherent channelling of funds for the Arctic;

11.    Affirms its support for the establishment of the EU Arctic Information Centre, an Arctic‑based network with the goal of informing and connecting Arctic and EU actors, and highlights in this connection the crucial need for this project to integrate a special interface for the EU’s institutional actors; recognises the role of the EU Arctic Forum in Brussels as a unique platform which fosters understanding among the wide range of relevant actors in both the Arctic and the EU connecting the spheres of policymaking, science and business;

12.    Asks the Commission and the EEAS, in view of the aforementioned facts and developments, to develop and put forward a visionary and coherent socioeconomic strategy for the EU’s engagement in the Arctic, making sure that the interests of the EU and its Member States are taken into account whenever policies affecting the Arctic are developed, changed or updated;

13.    Asks the Commission and the EEAS to develop an action plan to define concrete measures for the coherent implementation of such a strategy, as well as existing Arctic‑related policies and programmes, so as to ensure a coordinated approach when dealing with the Arctic region;

14.    Stresses the global impact of changes in the Arctic region and the importance of reducing pollution in the Arctic caused by increasing activities in the region; points out that climatic changes in the Arctic will have a major impact on coastal regions in Europe and elsewhere, and on climate-dependent sectors in Europe such as agriculture and fisheries, energy, reindeer herding, hunting, tourism and transport;

15.    Recognises that the effects of melting ice and milder temperatures not only bear the risk of displacing indigenous populations and thereby threatening the indigenous way of life, but also create opportunities for economic development in the Arctic region; 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 the indigenous peoples’ livelihood and the very sensitive nature of Arctic ecosystems;

16.    Confirms its formulations on the rights of indigenous people in general and the Sami in particular, as the EU’s only indigenous people, and urges the Commission to further explore possible ways of making sure that their voice and experience are present in the EU’s policymaking processes; suggests, in this connection, supporting the establishment of an Independent Indigenous Representation in Brussels;

17.    Underlines the major importance of the safety and security of new world trade routes through the sea in the Arctic, in particular for the economies of the EU and its Member States, given that these countries control 40 % of world commercial shipping; welcomes the work being carried out within the IMO on the finalisation of a mandatory Polar Code for shipping; urges the Member States and the Commission to maintain close contact with European research institutes and transport and insurance businesses with a view to ensuring that new technologies and experiences are taken into account; emphasises that the EU and its Member States should actively uphold the freedom of the seas and the right to free passage through international waterways; encourages cooperation in both research and investment with a view to developing a robust and safe infrastructure for Arctic sea routes;

18.    Calls on states in the region to ensure that any current transport routes – and those that may emerge in the future – are open to international shipping and to refrain from introducing any unilateral arbitrary burdens, be they financial or administrative, that could hinder shipping in the Arctic, other than internationally agreed measures aimed at increasing security or protection of the environment;

19.    Recalls the right of the people of the Arctic to determine their own livelihoods and recognises their wish for sustainable development of the region, and asks the Commission to report on which EU programmes could be used to support such long‑term, balanced sustainable development, and to prepare measures with a view to making a more concrete contribution to fulfilling this desire;

20.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the governments and parliaments of the Arctic region states.