Arctic and the EU

Even though the Arctic region is far from Brussels geographically, the EU has adopted an Arctic policy to promote good governance and sustainable Development in and around the Arctic.

The European Union is a major consumer of products such as fish and energy that come from the Arctic region. The developing environmental, economic, social and strategic importance of the Arctic region has given it a larger profile in international relations. The EU provides research, satellite observation and regional development to the Arctic region and the Arctic Council. The EU is currently advocating for ocean governance, as the demand for a more structured plan regarding national jurisdiction arises. The goal of this governance is to protect the Arctic high seas as it adapts to climate change and human activity.

In recent years, many EU member states have announced a Arctic policy frameworks. One example of that is the three priority areas of the EU Arctic policy from 2014. The Council and European Parliament asked the Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security policy to establish a more descriptive outline for EU funding, creating the three priority areas. The three areas are 

  1. Climate Change and Safeguarding the Arctic Environment
  2. Sustainable Development in and around the Arctic
  3. International Cooperation on Arctic Issues 

Before 2007, Danish Arctic policy centered on Denmark’s bilateral relationship with Greenland. It was not until 2011 that the Arctic became a central point of Danish foreign policy through the publication of the 2011 Arctic Strategy.

Denmark has a strong interest in the Arctic and cooperation amongst it. The Arctic remains one of Denmark’s foreign policy strategies. The goal of Denmark’s presence as an Arctic state is to help strengthen the overall goal of creating a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future for the Arctic.

Denmark was an initiator in the 2008 Ilulissat meeting. The Ilulissat Declaration was announced on 28 May 2008 at the meeting of the Arctic coastal states (Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States of America) in Ilulissat, Greenland. The goal of this meeting was to discuss the Arctic’s changing climate and its potential consequences for the ecosystems, indigenous communities and natural resources of the region. 

In this agreement, the states agreed to follow international law and regional cooperation in institutions such as the Arctic Council.