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Research Topics

Actors and patterns of cooperation and conflict
Russia, Norway and the High North - Past, Present, Future
The United States in the 21 Century Arctic
Defining an Interest: The European Union and the High North
The Power of Energy
Law of the Sea and Ocean Governance
Climate Change and Environmental Protection

Defining an interest: the European Union and the High North


An EU Arctic Policy?  

Professor Clive Archer gives you an account of the EU’s Arctic policy in recent years.  

The European Union’s involvement in the Arctic

The European Parliament’s involvement

  • European Commission's October 2007 Communication on Integrated Maritime Policy - will deal with Arctic by the end of 2008
  • European Parliament October 2008: Questions and debate led by Diana Wallis (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, ALDE)
  • Resolution on Arctic governance adopted 9 October 2008:
    • Referred to Russian flag incident (Aug 2007); UNCLOS; oil & gas; global warming
    • Effect on Inuit & wild-life of warming
    • 3 EU member states (Denmark, Finland & Sweden) and 2 European Economic Area states (Iceland & Norway) in Arctic Council
    • Arctic not governed by specific norms and regulations, never expected to be navigable or for commercial exploitation
    • Concern about environment, traffic; energy & security policy in Arctic
    • Wants special mention of Arctic at Copenhagen 2009 Climate Change conference
    • Suggests observer status for European Commission in AC;
    • Outlines basis for European Commission Communication on the Arctic
    • Suggests international treaty for protection of Arctic based on Antarctic Treaty 

The European Commission’s Arctic Paper 2008

  • Objectives:
    • Implement existing obligations rather than new instruments (answer to EP)
    • But develop some frameworks and adapt to Arctic conditions
    • Arctic EU members should not be excluded from any discussions (Ilulissat Declaration)
    • Arctic to be integrated into EU policies & negotiations. 
  • Proposals:
    • Closely follow negotiations (especially UNCLOS)
    • EU should have permanent observer status of AC
    • Further Northern Dimension projects especially on environment & energy should be encouraged
    • New framework for ecosystem management possible?Cross-border cooperation & programmes
    • Integrate Maritime Strategy Framework directive into EEA
    • Explore idea of European Arctic Information centre
    • i.e. many small steps 

Why an EU policy?

  • External reasons:
    • Growing economic importance of Arctic
    • Increased environmental importance
    • Russia’s activism in region
    • US, Norway & Canada developing Arctic policies, later Russia
    • Greenland moving to independence 
  • Internal reasons
    • Need for EU presence in all parts of world
    • Inter-agency rivalry: EP, Commission, High Representative
    • What to do after last enlargement?
    • Geographic balance within EU
    • Failure of ND’s Arctic window Where to next?
    • Institutional battles over Arctic: EU, AC, BEAC, NATO, UN
    • The Russian question: what does Russia want in the region?
    • The Greenland question: what can Greenland manage?
    • Norway in between: EEA, Svalbard, Barents. Has the “High North” succeeded as a policy?
    • The next European Commission: who gets what? 

See also the web site of the EU on the Arctic region

by Clive Archer, emeritus professor, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and associated individual researcher of the Geopolitics in the High North programme. Outline of a talk given at The Norwegian Atlantic Committee, September 2009


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Norwegian Institute for defence Studies CSIS Fritjof Nansen Institute Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik University of Tromsø Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the MFA of Russia University of Oslo Institute of general history Norwegian Defence Research Establishment Econ Pöyry
  The GeoPolitics in the High North research programme is now terminated, and the programme website will be preserved through 2016, but not updated.
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