The report analyses the policy statements on Arctic issues released from 2010 by the EU institutions and the EU’s role-building in the Arctic political framework, notably the Arctic Council. It describes how the EU’s role in the Arctic is seen in strategies and policy papers of Member States, and reports on the EU’s relations with other Arctic actors, particularly indigenous peoples. It gives an overall view of the status of the main EU policies with relevance for the Arctic and identifies the main challenges the EU has to face for progressing to an integrated and coherent Arctic policy.
The long-awaited joint communication by the Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy “Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region: Progress since 2008 and next steps” was issued in July 2012, four years after the groundbreaking Commission communication on the EU and the Arctic region.
The 2008 communication was a difficult effort to identify the EU’s potential role in the Arctic, building on a checkered variety of policies and actions. The declared aim was “to lead to a structured and coordinated approach to Arctic matters, as the first layer of an Arctic policy” for the EU, thus “opening new cooperation perspectives with the Arctic states, helping all of us to increase stability and to establish the right balance between the priority goal of preserving the Arctic environment and the need for sustainable use of resources.” That aim has yet to be achieved, as the language of 2012 reveals: “Taking a comprehensive approach to Arctic issues, this new Joint Communication underlines the need for a coherent, targeted EU approach towards the Arctic, building on the EU’s strengths, promoting responsible development while engaging more extensively in dialogue and cooperation with all Arctic stakeholders.”