The European Commission and the External Action Service have released the summary of the results of the public consultation on the way forward for the European Union’s Arctic policy.
The EU’s current Arctic policy, set out in a Joint Communication from 2016, is based on three pillars: fighting climate change and protecting the environment, promoting sustainable development and strengthening international cooperation.
In July 2020, the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) launched a public consultation with a view to updating its policy. Closed on 10 November 2020, the consultation helped to reflect more broadly on the new challenges and opportunities in the Arctic region, in light of the EU’s objectives under the European Green Deal and the EU’s International Ocean Governance agenda.
The consultation process involved a wide range of Arctic stakeholders, public and private alike, governmental and non-governmental, regional and local.
The overwhelming majority of responses to the consultation confirmed the continued relevance of the current Arctic priorities. What is clear from the consultation is that the EU has an important role to play in making the Arctic safe, stable, sustainable and prosperous, including through enhanced international cooperation. According to contributors the EU should
- take a long-term view and discourage environmentally unsustainable practices that undermine Arctic ecosystems, inhabitants and species
- make a stronger link between its climate policy, the European Green Deal and the updated EU Arctic policy to achieve sustainable development of the Arctic and
- maintain science and research at the heart of EU policies and actions in the Arctic
Against this background, the European Commission and the EEAS will re-examine the role of the EU in Arctic affairs and update the 2016 Joint Communication on an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic by the end of 2021.