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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


On 27 May 2010, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) conducted a stakeholder seminar on the EU’s interest towards the Arctic, entitled “The EU and the Arctic Region: Stocktaking of interests and actions”. The seminar was timely scheduled in respect to the growing interest of the EU towards the Arctic, lastly expressed by the Council Conclusions of December 2009 and the Parliament’s debate on Arctic issues in March this year. Alongside with work package participants, the seminar was gathered by representatives of the EU Commission, the Parliament, and different embassies in the European and Arctic context.

According to the work package roadmap, the seminar focused in this first step primarily on EU institutions and their interests and actions towards the region, before the project, in a further step, will investigate EU Member States interests in the Arctic in more detail. The seminar was introduced by Volker Perthes, Director of the SWP, stressing the fact that not only the EU and its Member States might have different interests towards the regions, but also other actors within and outside of the Arctic which makes this region an issue of global concern. Andreas Maurer, SWP researcher and currently at the European Parliament, in his contribution on identifying European interests draw attention to the divergence of individual EU Member States interests towards the region. While some of them might be interested primarily in maritime transport, others seem to pay more attention to fisheries or other sectors. As regards the EU itself, he stressed the potential for the transport dimension within an Arctic strategy due to the close economic ties between Europe and East Asia. The representative of the EU Commission, Thomas Dux from DG MARE, referred in his presentation to steps that have been taken since the Commission issued its Communication in November 2008 – up to date the most far-reaching and comprehensive EU strategic document on Arctic policies. He pointed to an update of the Commission’s Communication which will be probably launched in June 2011.

In the second part of the seminar, individual case studies on different EU policies and their Arctic implications were presented:

  • The case of energy, Dag Harald Claes, University of Oslo.
  • The case of fisheries, Bettina Rudloff, SWP and work-package leader.
  • The case of climate change, Antje Neumann, SWP researcher.
  • The case of Svalbard, Per Christiansen, University of Tromsö.

All presentations provided a deeper and more detailed insight into existing EU policies and measures in place. They showed a mixed picture on existing interests accross EU Member States depending on the case. As well they showed a partly discrepancy between the articulated EU interest towards the region and present measures in place, and reduced to some extent high expectations in respect to European resource activities towards the Arctic.

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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
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