Knowledge, responsibility, engagement: the EU outlines its policy for the Arctic
The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have outlined the way forward for the EU's constructive engagement in the Arctic.
The Arctic region is a vital component of the Earth's environment. Climate change in the Arctic is advancing dramatically, with change visible on a yearly basis, impacting significantly on its ecosystem and the livelihood of its inhabitants.
At the same time, rapidly retreating sea ice alongside technological progress are opening up new economic opportunities in the region such as shipping, mining, energy extraction and fishing. While beneficial for the global economy, these activities also call for a prudent and sustainable approach: further repercussions for the fragile Arctic can be expected if top environmental standards are not met.
Summarised in three words, ''Knowledge, Responsibility, Engagement'', the strategy adopted contains a set of tangible actions that contribute to research and sustainable development in the region and promote environmentally friendly technologies that could be used for sustainable shipping and mining.
It also underlines the EU's activities in the Arctic since 2008. For example, the EU has made a contribution of 20 million EUR per year in Arctic research over the last decade and has invested more than 1.14 billion EUR in the sustainable development of the region since 2007.
The Communication contains a series of measures to support the effective stewardship of the Arctic. They include:
• Support of Arctic research under the Commission’s proposed 80 billion EUR Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (see IP/11/1475 );
• Contribution to search and rescue in the Arctic through the launch of the next-generation observation satellites (see IP/11/1477 );
• Stepping up of actions to combat climate change;
• Use of EU’s funding opportunities to maximise sustainable development in the Arctic for the benefit of local and indigenous communities;
• Promotion and development of environmentally friendly technologies that could be used by extractive industries in the Arctic;
• Enhancing of bilateral dialogue on Arctic issues with Canada, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States, including by applying for permanent observer status in the Arctic Council;
• Stepping up of efforts to hold regular dialogue with representatives of indigenous peoples organisations on EU policies and programmes;