On Wednesday, 27 April, the European Commission accepted a political proposal meant to establish the direction for the European Union’s actions in the Arctic region. The European Union plans to enhance its activities and presence in the Arctic region with 39 measures that are mainly related to climate change, environmental protection, long-term development and international cooperation.
Research, science and innovation will serve as the main priorities in the aforementioned areas, as reported by the European Commission’s press-service in Latvia.
The joint announcement also includes established EU regulations, including commitments of member states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the realized and upcoming EU measures and projects. Initiated projects are also being discussed with EU member states in the EU Council and Parliament.
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini said: «A safe, sustainable and prosperous Arctic not only serves the 4 million people living there, our European Union and the rest of the world. It is a region of immense environmental, social, and economic importance to us all. The steps taken today underline our commitment to the region, its States and its peoples, and to ensuring that the region remains an example of constructive international cooperation. Because the Arctic is also crucial in terms of regional and global security, and a strategic component of our foreign policy.»
EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Karmenu Vella added: «We impact on the Arctic and the Arctic impacts on us. Global weather patterns, our oceans, ecosystems and local biodiversity – the Arctic influences them all. While increasing human development is inevitable, it is in our hands to do it in a sustainable way. We have to do this in full respect of the livelihoods of those who live in the region and by protecting its most valuable resource: the environment.»
In 2014, the EU Council and Parliament called the Commission and High Representative to create a more coherent framework for EU actions and funding programmes in the Arctic. This call was an impulse for the creation of a new integrated EU Arctic policy to enhance the presence of Europe in the Arctic based on Europe’s realized measures and decisions that already affect this region. The initial political decision was made in 2008 and subsequently reviewed and improved in 2012.
The role of the Arctic in climate change has become more significant over the past several years, as this region serves as the regulator of the Earth’s climate. It also directly influences weather change and agriculture in Europe.