Development Cooperation

New EU Arctic Strategy

18/10/2021 - 11:44
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On 13 October 2021, the High Representative and the Commission put forward their Joint Communication for a stronger EU engagement for a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous Arctic.

There are eight Arctic states: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America, with three of them being EU Member States. This makes the Arctic region of key strategic importance for the European Union, in view of climate change, raw materials as well as geostrategic influence. The presented strategy responds to these geopolitical, environmental, economic, security and social challenges and opportunities. It seeks to foster cooperation with partners on sustainable approaches to overcome them.

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, said: “The Arctic is changing rapidly, owing to the impact of global warming, increased competition for natural resources and geopolitical rivalries. These developments show that Europe must define its geopolitical interests broadly to promote stability, safety and peaceful cooperation in the Arctic.”

A safe, stable, sustainable, peaceful and prosperous Arctic

As a major economic player, the EU shares the responsibility for global sustainable development, including in the Arctic region, and for the livelihood of its inhabitants, including indigenous peoples. The EU has a significant impact on the Arctic through its environmental footprint and demand for resources and products.

In the Arctic, the EU is responsible for:

36% black carbon deposition,

31% of CO2,

16.5% of black carbon from maritime transport.

To protect the Arctic’s fragile environment and biodiversity, the EU will:

  • Support marine protection and implement the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries;
  • Push for commitments that oil, gas and coal stay in the ground and promote sustainable and responsible solutions for extracting critical materials needed for the green transition;
  • Promote research into and cooperation on the effects of thawing permafrost.

Furthermore, the EU will support efforts to reduce black carbon emissions in the Arctic by 33% by 2025, as well as to lower the carbon and environmental footprint of maritime transport.

Supporting a robust, inclusive and sustainable development of the Arctic to the benefit of its inhabitants and future generations will remain one of EU’s key priorities. This will be achieved by means of:

  • Investing in the people: better education, sustainable growth and jobs, including in the blue economy;
  • Stimulating an innovative green transition where Arctic regions can showcase future-compatible job creation and lead by example in sustainable solutions and boost digital connectivity;
  • Increasing the involvement of young, women and Indigenous People in Arctic decision-making.

Aiming to strengthening international cooperation in the Arctic, the EU will:

  • Raise Arctic matters in external contacts, intensify regional cooperation and establish an European Commission Office in Greenland;
  • Reiterate EU’s application for official Observer status in the Arctic Council and enhance EU engagement in its working groups;
  • Build on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to improve international cooperation on environmental disasters.

The EU will cooperate with all key partners and stakeholders in the Arctic and beyond, taking account of the shared responsibility to work for a safe, sustainable, prosperous and peaceful region. This is in the shared interest of the entire world.

More information

A stronger EU engagement for a greener, peaceful and prosperous Arctic (press release of 13 October 2021)


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