Parliament concerned about Norway’s decision to mine part of the Arctic seabed 

Press Releases 
  • MEPs want an international moratorium on deep-seabed mining until its environmental effects are clearer 
  • Confirmation vote by Oslo still pending before extractions can begin  
  • Norway has obligations on managing fishing stocks and protecting Arctic waters from negative effects of human activity 

The European Parliament expressed on Wednesday its concern over Norway’s decision that could lead to the commercial mine exploitation of part of the Arctic seabed.

In a plenary resolution, MEPs respond to the Norwegian Parliament’s decision to open 281 200km2 to potential deep-seabed mining. They call on the Commission and EU countries to work towards an international moratorium until the impact of this activity on the marine environment has been sufficiently studied and harm to marine ecosystems prevented. They demand that non-EU countries respect the precautionary principle and support the moratorium.

The targeted area is in the Norwegian extended continental shelf, affecting several countries’ fishing interests. The area, from Jan Mayen island to Svalbard archipelago, includes Svalbard’s Fisheries Protection Zone, where 22 EU countries and 23 non-EU countries can fish.

Therefore, MEPs remind Norway of its obligations as party to several treaties on the management of fishing stocks and the protection of Arctic waters against the adverse effects of human activities.

The resolution says that the Norwegian Parliament still has to take a final vote on extraction activities. They also highlight that the country’s Environment Agency considers that there is not enough knowledge to proceed with mineral extraction.

According to the text, seven EU countries have already expressed support for a moratorium, a pause or a total ban on seabed mining, while many others have supported an identical measure in the framework of the IUCN World Conservation Congress, in September 2021. Finally, MEPs argue that big international companies - such as Volvo, BMW, Volkswagen, Samsung or Phillips - have committed to not source or finance minerals from the deep seabed.

The resolution was approved by 523 votes in favour to 34 against and 59 abstentions.


On 9 January 2024, the Norwegian Parliament decided to advance seabed mining in their continental shelf and extended continental shelf, some of which is in the Arctic.

The EU has invested more than 80 million EUR in research related to the impacts of deep-sea mining on the marine environment and on environmentally friendly technologies but knowledge of deep-sea ecosystem functioning and recoverability is still very limited.

The newly agreed Treaty of the High Seas, also known as BBNJ, is the international legally binding instrument to guarantee sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. It was signed both by the European Union and Norway.

Norway also signed the so-called OSPAR Convention for the protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, including Arctic waters, against the adverse effects of human activities.

Protection of ecosystems, on land or in the seas, within or beyond EU borders, has been one of the key pillars of the Green Deal, one of the main policies of the current Commission.