Motion for a resolution - B7-0232/2014Motion 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

José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Elmar Brok, Mairead McGuinness, Michael Gahler, Ivo Belet, Dubravka Šuica, Elena Băsescu on behalf of the PPE 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 EU 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 the EEA 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 EU-Greenland Partnership 2007-2013 and to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Greenland, which entered into force on 1 January 2013 and is valid for a period of 3 years,

–       having regard to the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for the years 2014 to 2020,

–       having regard to the Arctic Council chairmanship programme, the Nordic Council of Ministers Arctic Cooperation Programme and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) programme,

–       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 statements adopted at the Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum in September 2009 in Brussels and in February 2011 in Tromsø,

–       having regard to the joint statement of the third ministerial meeting of the renewed Northern Dimension, held in Brussels on 18 February 2013,

–       having regard to the respective conference statements of the 9th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, held in Brussels from 13 to 15 September 2010, and of the 10th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, held in Akureyri from 5 to 7 September 2012,

–       having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 3 October 2013 in Case C-583/11P, and of 25 April 2013 in Case T-526/10 concerning the application for annulment of Commission Regulation (EU) No 737/2010 of 10 August 2010 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Regulation (EC) 1007/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on trade in seal products,

–       having regard to the World Trade Organisation panel report of 25 November 2013 entitled ‘European Communities – measures prohibiting the importation and marketing of seal products’, chapter 1.3.5 (setting out the preliminary ruling issued on 29 January 2013),

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

A.     whereas the joint communication of the Commission and and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of summer 2012 was a response 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 people, live in the Arctic regions of Finland and Sweden as well as Norway and Russia,

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

E.     whereas there has been longstanding EU engagement in the Arctic by way of its involvement in the common Northern Dimension policy with Russia, Norway and Iceland (including the Arctic Window), in the Barents cooperation and – in particular – in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Barents Regional Council, and on account of the implications of its strategic partnerships with Canada, the United States and Russia, along with its participation as an active ad hoc observer in the Arctic Council in recent years;

F.     whereas the decision of the Arctic Council in Kiruna to ‘affirmatively receive’ the EU’s application for observer status is interpreted in different ways regarding to what extent the EU is granted this status;

G.     whereas the EU and its Member States make a major contribution to research in the Arctic and whereas EU programme, including the new Horizon 2020 framework programme, support major research projects in the region, benefiting not least the peoples and economies of the Arctic countries;

H.     whereas it is estimated that about a fifth of the world’s undiscovered hydrocarbon resources are located in the Arctic region, although more extensive research is needed to establish more accurately how much gas and oil there is to be found in which parts of the Arctic region and with what technology and how economically viable it would be to exploit these reserves;

I.      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 are an indication of the growing geopolitical appreciation of the Arctic on a global scale;

J.      whereas the safety of offshore oil and gas operations in the Arctic is addressed in Directive 2013/30/EU on safety of offshore oil and gas operations and requires special attention in order to ensure the environmental protection of the Arctic, taking into account the risk of major accidents and the need for an effective response;

K.     whereas the need for an effective response in relation to offshore oil and gas operations in the Arctic is highlighted in Directive 2013/30/EU on safety of offshore oil and gas operations;

The EU and the Arctic

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 also 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 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 in a timely manner throughout that process;

3.      Expresses its support for the Commission’s work to gain observer status in the Arctic Council; recalls the role of the EU and its Member States as active members of other Arctic-relevant institutions such as the IMO; underlines the need to refocus the activities of the EU institutions on areas in which EU political and economic interests are at stake;

4.      Underlines the role of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) as an important hub for cooperation between Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the Commission; notes the work of the BEAC on health and social issues, education and research, energy, culture and tourism; notes the advisory role of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples (WGIP) within the BEAC;

5.      Underlines the contributions made by the EU to research and development and the engagement of economic actors registered and active under EU laws in the Arctic region;

6.      Calls on the Commission to put forward proposals as to how the Galileo Project or other projects such as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security that could have an impact on the Arctic could be developed to enable safer and faster navigation in Arctic waters, thus investing in the safety and accessibility of the North-East Passage in particular, to contribute to better predictability of ice movements, better mapping of the Arctic seabed and an understanding of the main geodynamic processes in the area;

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

8.      Highlights the need for an active engagement of the EU in all relevant working groups of the Artic Council and in relevant regional and international organisations, such as the IMO;

9.      Welcomes the new Arctic strategies of individual EU Member States, both members of the Arctic Council such as Finland, Denmark and Sweden and observer states such as Germany and the UK; underlines the fact that these strategies should lead not only to a more realistic understanding but also to concrete engagements in the Arctic, and that this highlights the need to take into account common EU policies and programmes affecting the Arctic;

10.    Notes the decision of the new government of Iceland to drop out of EU membership negotiations; regrets the fact that the two sides were unable to find a solution regarding their conflicting views on some issues, despite their close cultural bonds and the fact that Iceland has already implemented huge amounts of EU legislation as an EEA and Schengen member, and this missed opportunity to integrate Iceland more closely – even under special exemption clauses – taking into account its geopolitical and geo-economical strategic position, for future generations; calls on 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 – not least in view of the increasing activities of Chinese actors, and to ensure that European interests do not suffer in this strategically important region;

11.    Welcomes the preparations for an Arctic Economic Council, to be attached to the Arctic Council in an advisory function; underlines the proportion of European businesses and institutes contributing to and investing in the Arctic, which suggeste an efficient participation of business actors not only from the three Arctic EU Member States but also from other (observer) states, bearing in mind the global nature of many businesses nowadays;

12.    Welcomes the work of bottom-up initiatives, which ensure a balanced and long-term engagement of European and non-European businesses, such as the Arctic Business Round Table, and calls on the Commission to put forward suggestions as to how to support European businesses engaging in sustainable and long-term balanced socio-economic development in the Arctic;

13.    Calls on 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;

14.    Further suggests that steps be taken to better align existing programmes, e.g. under the Interreg IV program, NPP, Kolartic, Baltic and the Blue Growth strategy, as well as contributions to fund Northern Dimension Partnerships such as NDEP and NDPTL, or ENPI envelopes to enable the channelling of funding, and to clearly define investment priorities for engagement with the Arctic region; urges that a Commission and EEAS platform be put in charge of ensuring the coherent channelling of funds on the Arctic;

15.    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; highlights, in this connection, the crucial need for this project to include a special interface to EU institutional actors; recognises the role of the EU Arctic Forum in Brussels as a unique platform fostering understanding among the wide range of relevant actors in both the Arctic and the EU and connecting the spheres of policy-making, science and business;

16.    Expresses its concern as regards the EEAS’s capacity to organise coordination among the several Commission DGs concerned, after RELEX being cut off from the Commission infrastructure and established as a separate entity; calls on the Commission and the EEAS, therefore, to report to Parliament before the end of this Commission’s term on how an efficient system – such as that previously run by the Commission’s Inter-Service Working Group – should be organised to coordinate a horizontal working group with the goal of ensuring horizontal coherence, coordination and efficiency in EU policy development and programme execution, as requested by Parliament;

17.    Calls on the Commission to develop and put forward a coherent socio-economic strategy on the EU’s engagement in the Arctic, ensuring that EU and Member State interests are taken into account whenever policies affecting the Arctic are developed, changed or updated;

18.    Calls on the Commission to devise an action plan setting out concrete steps for the coherent implementation of such a strategy and of existing Arctic-related policies and programmes in order to ensure a coordinated approach when dealing with the Arctic region;

Sustainable socioeconomic development and mitigating and adapting to climate change in the Arctic region

19.    Stresses the global impact of changes in the Arctic region and the important role which, alongside the circumpolar nations, the EU and other industrial centers will have to play in reducing the pollution in the Arctic region caused by the increasing activities taking place there; points out that the 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;

20.    Recognises that the effects of the melting ice and milder temperatures do not only carry the risk of displacing indigenous populations and thereby threatening the indigenous way of life but are also liable to create opportunities for economic development in the Arctic region; aAcknowledges 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 the traditional sources of the indigenous peoples’ livelihoods and the very sensitive nature of Arctic ecosystems;

21.    While bearing in mind the similar US legislation, nevertheless regrets the impact which the EU regulation relating to the ban on seal skins has had on parts of the population and in particular indigenous culture and livelihood, resulting in an obstacle to EU engagement in the Arctic; urges the Commission to explore ways to adapt or reform this legislation and make it compatible with the needs of its Arctic partners;

22.    Reiterates its position on the rights of indigenous peoples in general and the Sami as the EU’s only indigenous people in particular; urges to Commission to further explore ways for their voice and experience to be taken into account in EU policy-making processes; calls, in this regard, for the establishment of an Independent Indigenous Representation in Brussels;

23.    Underlines the major contributions made by the EU to research in the Horizon 2020 framework; calls on the Commission to define clear headings to support Arctic-related research in the new Horizon 2020, both in general and in applied research;

24.    Reiterates that the serious environmental concerns relating to the Arctic waters require special attention to ensure the environmental protection of the Arctic in relation to any offshore oil and gas operations, taking into account the risk of major accidents and the need for an effective response, as provided for in Directive 2013/30/EU;

25.    Stresses the need for an effective response in relation to offshore oil and gas operations in the Arctic, as provided for in Directive 2013/30/EU on safety of offshore oil and gas operations;

26.    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 finalisation of the work in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on 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;

27.    Stresses the importance of the work done in this regard in the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics (NDPTL);

28.    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;

29.    Takes note of recent exploration activities in the European Arctic, the Barents Sea, and highlights the bilateral cooperation between Norway and Russia, aiming for application of the highest available technical standards in the field of environmental protection while prospecting for oil and gas in the Barents Sea; points out, in particular, the importance of the contentious development of new technologies specially developed for the Arctic environment, such as sub-seabed installation technology;

30.    Conscious of the internal debates in the EU and its Member States on climate change and new energy policies (‘Energiewende’), recalls the position of the EU as a leading consumer of Arctic natural gas and the involvement of European economic actors; underlines the role of natural gas from a safe and secure supply source, produced according to the highest possible standards, as an important bridge element into a low-carbon economy in the future; supports the step-by-step precautionary approach in the development of energy resources in the Arctic, and highlights the fact that the various regions of the Arctic differ substantially in their conditions and must therefore be dealt with separately;

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

32.    Takes note of the development priorities of the new government of Greenland; calls on the Commission to explore how EU programmes could contribute to the sustainable development of Greenland, in particular in the light of the dramatically increasing activities of non-European actors in Greenland; urges both the Commission and the Member States to take a strategic view of the future of Greenland and the development of its resources, while ensuring that the European participation contributes properly to the country’s sustainable development;

33.    Expresses its concern at the very limited success of the Letter of Intent signed by a Commission Vice-President with Greenland, compared with the speed of engagement and investment preparation by Asian nations; calls on the Commission and the Member States also to coordinate with European business in order to ensure that the EU’s long-term interests and its capacity to contribute to long-term sustainable development are taken into account;

34.    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.