Putting the Arctic on the EU radar

05.12.2008
The EU Commission published a report last week on the relationship between the Union and the Arctic Region. The ‘Common Concern for the Arctic‘‘ conference hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers in Ilulissat in September helped place the Arctic firmly on the Union‘s agenda.
A number of EU politicians, including the Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg, and the Vice President of the European Parliament, Diana Wallis, attended the conference, which has helped shape EU policy on the subject.

EU policy in areas like climate change, the environment, energy, research, fisheries and transport often has a direct impact on the Arctic. Presenting the report, Borg pointed out how important it is for the Union to turn its attention northwards and highlighted the opportunities for increased economic activity, as well as the urgent environmental challenges that need to be faced in the region.

"The combination of climate change and the latest technology means that new opportunities as well as new challenges are faced. We need to co-ordinate our efforts. We cannot remain passive in the face of the alarming damage to the Arctic climate, which has a knock-on effect on the rest of our planet," the Commissioner said.

"The integrated maritime policy may serve as a badly needed platform for that co-operation," he added, echoing top priorities of the Icelandic Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2009, i.e. the marine environment and fisheries.

The Commission hopes its report will promote joint approaches to Arctic matters by the EU member states and, in time, will led to a definitive EU policy on the subject. The report highlights the Nordic Council of Ministers‘ ‘‘valuable efforts to promote co-operation in the Arctic Region‘‘ and encourages the EU and the Nordic Council of Ministers to look into the possibility of running a joint Arctic Information Centre. It also recognises the rights of indigenous peoples to hunt and fish in a sustainable manner.

Source: www.norden.org

Read report: The European Union and the Arctic Region.

Read about The Nordic Council of Ministers’ cooperation on the Arctic.

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