The EU and the Arctic: Competing Priorities

04-02-2010

The European Union aims for the protection of the Arctic environment and population, sustainable use of resources, and promotion of multilateral governance in the region.  The major Arctic powers share the first two goals, at least in word. However, most are sceptical about multilateral initiatives that may limit their claims over resource-rich areas. Such scepticism, along with Canadian opposition to an EU seal product ban, impeded the EU's aspiration for observer status at the Arctic Council. The EU’s nascent Arctic policy faces a challenge in reconciling the competing priorities not only of Arctic governments but also of various stakeholders and interest groups. Despite contradictory pressures, all Arctic states have expressed a will to cooperate and settle disputes peacefully.

The European Union aims for the protection of the Arctic environment and population, sustainable use of resources, and promotion of multilateral governance in the region.  The major Arctic powers share the first two goals, at least in word. However, most are sceptical about multilateral initiatives that may limit their claims over resource-rich areas. Such scepticism, along with Canadian opposition to an EU seal product ban, impeded the EU's aspiration for observer status at the Arctic Council. The EU’s nascent Arctic policy faces a challenge in reconciling the competing priorities not only of Arctic governments but also of various stakeholders and interest groups. Despite contradictory pressures, all Arctic states have expressed a will to cooperate and settle disputes peacefully.