The European Commission is currently working on an update of the EU’s Arctic policy and some Members of the European Parliament are concerned about emerging threats to stability in the area.
The Commission is re-examining the EU’s role in the Artic ahead of an integrated EU policy by the end of 2021. Parliament will debate and vote on its own report in Strasbourg this week, according to the European Parliament.
“A shift in the perception of the Arctic is urgently needed as an increasingly tense international situation forces us to review our Arctic policy,” said Anna Fotyga, author of the Parliament report.
The Arctic will no longer be a remote or inaccessible region, she said, but will in fact play a critical role in Europe’s future.
“The EU’s Arctic strategy must reflect the new security realities in the region, rising geopolitical tensions and new players such as China,” said Fotyga. “Moscow looks at the Arctic in the long term, striving to impose a series of legal, economic and military facts. In this way, it introduces global tensions to a region that we want to preserve as an area of peaceful and fruitful cooperation.”
The report urges Russia to fully respect international law and to be mindful of the consequences of its actions. It also says that potential EU cooperation with Russia in the Arctic must not jeopardise the goals of sanctions against Russian action elsewhere.
The increasing role of the Arctic in trade, navigation, environment and climate, issues related to local communities, in particular indigenous people, must also be taken into account, said Fotyga.
There is growing interest in the Arctic and its rare earth mineral resources, which are crucial in the development of new technologies: both green and military. “Europe must reduce its dependence on China for these minerals and the Arctic should play a central role in the European Raw Materials Alliance".