Eight years after a first EU Communication on the Arctic, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission were supposed to issue its latest policy update by mid-March 2016.
The final adoption of the new ‘Joint Communication on EU Arctic policy’ is to be slightly delayed and now envisaged for April 2016.
The EU’s next Arctic policy initiative aims to define the EUropean priorities towards the Arctic region for the foreseeable future. According to the Commission’s Better Regulation Roadmap, the Joint Communication will set out a more coherent framework for the EU’s Arctic engagement.
Basically it should channel and interlink the various EUropean resources for the sustainable development of the region in order to contribute to creating jobs and growth while safeguarding the Arctic’s natural environment. Moreover, it should give a strong signal to the EU’s internal and external stakeholders that the EU is committed to the Arctic and remains engaged and ready to take its responsibilities vis-à-vis this region.
Coherence with national policies
In recent years, several member states have also issued Arctic policy documents, with an Italian strategy for the Arctic being the latest one. The EU policy towards the Arctic shall eventually ensure coherence with all national policies and support member states in their Arctic activities.
From an intra-Arctic perspective, the European Union and its on-going Arctic endeavour has recently also made Norwegian headlines. In a joint letter to Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, three Norwegian government ministers have asked for a “clear message from the Commission that natural gas remains important for the EU’s energy mix”. A related statement would be a “welcome signal” for Norwegian investment in exploiting the untapped gas resources in the Barents Sea.
Due to the nature of the Joint Communication such a statement will, however, unlikely to be found in the upcoming EUropean policy initiative and rather be tackled bilaterally in the EU-Norway Energy Dialogue.