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Document 52016JC0021

The Arctic region — new EU policy agenda

The Arctic region — new EU policy agenda

 

SUMMARY OF:

Joint Communication (JOIN(2016) 21 final) — An integrated European Union policy for the Arctic

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE JOINT COMMUNICATION?

It sets out the general guidelines for a new European Union (EU) policy concerning the Arctic region* which will focus on 3 main areas:

  • 1.

    climate change and environmental protection;

  • 2.

    sustainable development; and

  • 3.

    international cooperation.

KEY POINTS

Climate change and environmental protection

Climate change in the region is progressing more rapidly and more comprehensively than ever. As warming continues, ice-free summers in the Arctic may occur even as soon as in the next 20 to 40 years.

The Arctic region itself also contributes to climate change, due to the gradual release of methane gases as the area warms up.

To help the Arctic population to develop an ambitious climate adaptation policy, the EU is ready to work together with Arctic countries, their local populations and indigenous communities to:

  • define international measures to limit black carbon* and methane emissions;
  • support international access to research facilities in the Arctic region (with research stations, scientific vessels, satellite observations with the Copernicus programme);
  • create a network of marine protected areas and an international agreement to prevent unregulated fisheries in the central Arctic Ocean.

Sustainable development

The EU can contribute to the Arctic’s need for improved socio-economic resilience*, with science, research and innovation projects.

As the Arctic region is suffering from underinvestment, the EU strategy will:

  • redirect EU funding instruments to support innovation and infrastructure development to improve transport links and businesses;
  • readdress the Copernicus programme and target research towards maritime safety through the surveillance and monitoring of vessel traffic.

International cooperation

The EU will continue to take part in international forums relevant to the Arctic, such as the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Northern Dimension. It will also:

  • cooperate with other countries such as China, India and Japan on science and research;
  • consult with Arctic indigenous peoples and local communities to ensure that their rights are respected and their views are reflected in the implementation of EU policies.

EU funding

The EU is one of the largest contributors to Arctic research: since 2002, €200 million have been committed from the EU budget.

Over the period from 2014 to 2020, over €1 billion from the European Structural and Investment Funds are being invested in the area in strategic fields such as research and innovation, support to small businesses and clean energy.

BACKGROUND

In 2014, the Council of the European Union and European Parliament asked the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to develop a more coherent approach for EU action and funding programmes in the Arctic. The EU’s integrated policy for the Arctic is its latest statement on its ongoing support to the Arctic region, and follows on from its 2008 policy communication and its 2012 update and overview of activities.

See also:

* KEY TERMS

Arctic region: it covers the area around the North Pole, north of the Arctic Circle, and includes the Arctic Ocean and territories of the 8 Arctic countries: Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.

Black carbon: carbon produced both naturally and by human activities as a result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. It causes a high level of atmospheric warming and may be responsible for more than 30% of recent warming in the Arctic.

Socio-economic resilience: a country’s ability to react to shocks arising from the changing climate.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council: An integrated European Union policy for the Arctic (JOIN(2016) 21 final, 27.4.2016)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council — The European Union and the Arctic region (COM(2008) 763 final, 20.11.2008)

Joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council — Developing a European Union policy towards the Arctic region: progress since 2008 and next steps (JOIN(2012) 19 final, 26.6.2012)

Joint staff working document — The inventory of activities in the framework of developing a European Union Arctic policy — accompanying the document —Joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council — Developing a European Union policy towards the Arctic region: progress since 2008 and next steps (SWD(2012) 182 final, 26.6.2012)

Joint staff working document — Space and the Arctic — accompanying the document — Joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council — Developing a European Union policy towards the Arctic region: progress since 2008 and next steps (SWD(2012) 183 final, 26.6.2012)

last update 13.02.2017

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