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European Union External Action

European Union External Action

EU Arctic policy

Joint Communication on an integrated EU policy for the Arctic, published by the European Commission and the High Representative on 27 April 2016

EU Arctic policy - an introduction

 

 

 

Understanding the science of climate change, helping to develop strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and safeguarding the Arctic environment are part of the EU’s wider efforts in relation to the Arctic.

The EU is committed to contributing to sustainable development in a balanced and integrated manner.

The EU engages in multilateral, regional and sub-regional cooperation on Arctic matters. Many Arctic matters relate to the Arctic as well as to lower latitudes.

Find out more about the Arctic.

/file/european-union-policy-arctic_enEuropean Union policy for the Arctic

  • EDU-ARCTIC, Engaging students in STEM education through Arctic research

    EDU-ARCTIC focusses on using Arctic research as a vehicle to strengthen science education curricula all across Europe. It aims to encourage students aged 13 to 20 to pursue further education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), setting them on a path to perhaps one day work in one of these sectors.

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  • GRACE, Integrated oil spill response actions and environmental effects

    The project will focus on developing, comparing and evaluating the effectiveness and environmental effects of different oil spill response methods in a cold climate. In addition to this we will be developing a system for the real-time observation of underwater oil spills and a strategic tool for choosing oil spill response methods.

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  • EU-PolarNet, connecting science with society

    EU-PolarNet is the world’s largest consortium of expertise and infrastructure for polar research. From 2015-2020, EU-PolarNet will develop and deliver a strategic framework and mechanisms to prioritise science, optimise the use of polar infrastructure, and broker new partnerships that will lead to the co-design of polar research projects that deliver tangible benefits for society.

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  • INTERACT - International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic

    The International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic (INTERACT) aims to build capacity for identifying, understanding, predicting and responding to diverse environmental changes throughout the wide environmental and land-use envelopes of the Arctic. This is necessary because the Arctic is so vast and so sparsely populated that environmental observing capacity is limited compared to most other latitudes.

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  • ICE-ARC, Directly assessing the social and economic impact of Arctic sea-ice loss

    ICE-ARC will look into the current and future changes in Arctic sea ice – both from changing atmospheric and oceanic conditions. The project will also investigate the consequences of these changes both on the economics of the area and globally, and social aspects such as on indigenous peoples.

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Investing in infrastructure that unites: first gas interconnector between Finland and Estonia ends energy isolation

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Estonia Taavi Rõivas and the Prime Minister of Finland Juha Sipilä have today witnessed the signing of a €187 million investment in the Balticconnector – the first gas pipeline connecting Finland and Estonia. This gas interconnector will end the energy isolation of Finland which is largely dependent on a single supplier. When the gas starts flowing by 2020, this project will unite the Eastern Baltic Sea region with the rest of the EU energy market.

President Juncker welcomed the investment: "Today's signature shows that the European Union delivers and unites. It is the result of close cooperation and a proof of true European solidarity. We are doing more than linking gas systems of two countries. We are bringing people and Member States in the region closer together by building a pipeline that unites European countries. As part of the Energy Union, we are building missing energy links, uniting markets, improving security of supply and ending the energy isolation of Member States."

Prime Minister of Estonia Taavi Rõivas said: "Balticconnector signifies a key development for Nordic-Baltic energy market integration, for region's security and diversity of supply and for consumer benefit. Regional co-operation and EU's contribution allows for a change from entirely closed to one of the most diversified and open regional energy markets in the Union with further prospects in upcoming years" and Prime Minister of Finland Juha Sipilä added: "Balticconnector is an important milestone in helping to complete EU wide energy market and improving the security of supply in Baltic Sea region".

As part of the EU's Energy Union strategy, the EU is committed to building missing energy infrastructure links and ensuring that every Member State has access to at least three different sources of gas. Integrating the Baltic Sea region with the rest of the EU is a priority for the Commission.

The Balticconnector pipeline will consist of three sections: 22 km Finnish onshore, 80 km offshore and 50 km Estonian onshore. It enables the transport of 7.2 million cubic metres of gas per day with flows running in both directions. Alongside the Gas Interconnector Poland–Lithuania (GIPL), it will contribute to increasing energy security and solidarity in the region.

Currently, Finland is largely dependent on gas flows from a single supplier. And until recently, the three Baltic States also had to rely on gas imports from a single gas source. When completed, the Balticconnector and the gas pipeline between Poland and Lithuania, will allow Finland and the Baltic States to diversify their gas sources and routes, safeguarding them against possible supply disruptions in the future.

Till 2020 a total of €5.35 billion will be invested in European priority projects under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). When completed, the projects will enhance security of supply and contribute to market integration. The grant was awarded under Connecting Europe and covers 75% of the construction costs, the maximum co-financing level permitted.

EU hails global HFC phase-down as a major concrete step in delivering the Paris Agreement

The European Union welcomes the agreement today in Kigali, Rwanda, on a global phase-down of climate-warming hydrofluorocarbon gases (HFCs). These manmade substances which are used mainly in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, have a global warming effect up to 15,000 times greater than carbon dioxide and are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Today's agreement represents a significant step forward in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, which will legally enter into force next month. 

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "This is a huge win for the climate. We have taken the first concrete step in delivering on the promises we made in Paris last December. The global phase-down we have agreed today could knock off up to half a degree of warming by the end of the century.  I am proud of the role the European Union played in brokering this deal. We have shown through our own action on HFCs that this is a fast and cost-effective way to reduce emissions."

The 197 Parties to the Montreal Protocol have agreed to bring HFCs within the scope of the international treaty that has been so successful in phasing out ozone-depleting substances that were used in the same sectors. The Kigali amendment requires developed and developing countries to gradually limit their consumption and production of HFCs, with developed countries moving first. 

The EU and its Member States have been long-time supporters of proposals for the global phase-down of HFCs. The European Union has shown global leadership through its own action. The EU's ground breaking legislation on fluorinated greenhouse gases adopted in 2014 demonstrated that an HFC phase-down was feasible. This set an EU-wide cap on consumption of HFCs in 2015, and a first reduction step this year.

The European Commission announced this week that it would provide EUR 3 million for early action on HFCs in Latin American and Caribbean countries. This is on top of EUR 8 million the Commission is already providing for similar projects in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. EU Member States currently provide approximately half of the total funding in the Multilateral Fund which helps developing countries comply with their obligations to protect the ozone layer under the Montreal Protocol.

Decommissioning fossil fuel power plants between now and 2030 essential for Europe’s low carbon future

Significant changes will be needed in the Member States’ energy-generating mix if the European Union is to meet its 2050 goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 % compared to 1990 levels, according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report published today. While the European Union has made considerable progress in improving energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources, a well-planned transition out of carbon-intensive power generation is needed to meet the long-term aim of creating a low-carbon society.

The EEA report ‘Transforming the EU power sector: avoiding a carbon lock-in’ stresses the need for Europe to become more forward-looking when it comes to investing in cleaner energy sources. It calls on the EU to seize the opportunity to 'decarbonise' the energy generating sector, replacing ageing and end-of-life coal-fired plants with renewable energy sources where possible between now and 2030. The report gives a detailed analysis of the energy generating sector, looking specifically at the technical lifetimes of existing fossil fuel capacity across Europe. It also draws a comparison showing that similar lifetimes in the future would be incompatible with the EU’s climate goals and highlights that meeting these goals can only be realised if fossil fuel capacity decreases progressively within this decade.

Europe's electricity generating sector is at the heart of the EU’s decarbonisation strategy. Power generation remains the largest greenhouse gas-emitting sector, being responsible for roughly one third of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and more than half of the verified emissions under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). As such, the sector has a big role to play in meeting commitments on reducing emissions and improving air quality.

"I welcome today's report 'Transforming the EU power sector: avoiding a carbon lock-in' and am grateful that EEA raised this discussion. It is indeed imperative that new investments that will be done in the next few years go rather towards clean energies such as renewable, and don't result in a carbon lock in from fossil fuels we can't have in our future energy system. The COP21 agreement, negotiated last year, has been ratified by enough countries to enter into force and give Europe a chance to set an example and become the global leader for energy efficiency," said Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Vice-President in charge of Energy Union.

"Europe is now generating four times more wind power and 70 times more solar power as in 2005. This is good news, but a clear, forward-looking investment strategy is also necessary across the fossil fuel power sector to meet our long-term challenge to cut CO2 emissions. Europe is committed to decarbonise its economy so we cannot afford to tie up our investments in emission-intensive technologies. Investing in renewables and energy efficiency provides the best return on our money," said Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director.

EU triggers entry into force of global climate agreement

The European Union has officially joined the Paris Agreement, triggering the entry into force of the landmark deal to tackle climate change.

Ambassadors from the EU and the seven Member States that have already completed their national procedures (Slovakia, France, Hungary, Germany, Malta, Austria and Portugal) deposited their ratification instruments at the UN headquarters.

The official ceremony will take place tomorrow in New York at the UN headquarters hosted by the Slovak Minister of Environment, László Sólymos and Commissioner Arias Cañete. Together with other international partners that have deposited recently, the EU and the UN will celebrate the deposit of the instruments that have triggered the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement, which was adopted in December 2015 by 195 countries, will legally enter into force on 4 November 2016.

In the presence of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the United Nation's Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the President of COP 21 Ségolène Royal, the political process for the European Union to ratify the Agreement was already concluded earlier this week. This follows the State of the Union Speech by President Juncker from 14 September 2016 where he had called for a swift ratification of the Paris Agreement.

Commission announces extension of strategic fund for investments

The European Commission has announced that the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) will be extended for three further years to 2020, with the aim of mobilising €500 billion in investment.

EFSI was set up in 2015 to kick-start investments in the EU by mobilising private finance, and a large part of investments under EFSI have an energy focus.

Since its launch one year ago, EFSI – which is implemented and co-funded by the European Investment Bank (EIB) – is on track to mobilise at least €315 billion in additional investment by mid-2018.

So far, EFSI has supported energy infrastructure projects and those focussing on energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart meters. For example, in France the fund financed a project to promote energy efficiency in French housing which will cut energy bills in more than 40,000 homes.

In Spain, the fund gave a long-term loan of a gas grid project and lent money for R&D activities in a renewables-orientated technology company.

The next EFSI period, known as EFSI 2, will continue to support energy infrastructure projects, as well as those that encourage renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency. EFSI will also focus on projects in Eastern and Southern EU countries, aiming at achieving a good geographical balance and helping to meet the Energy Union’s goals of security of energy supply and cutting carbon emissions from the energy sector.