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The JRC and the Arctic

How JRC science can underpin the successful implementation of an EU Arctic Policy

The Arctic is experiencing unprecedented and disproportionately high rates of environmental change due to effects of climate change. These changing conditions are making it easier to exploit the natural wealth of the Arctic (mineral, fisheries, land) while putting the existence of Arctic ecosystems and the indigenous population that rely on them under threat. EU institutions have recognised these opportunities for, and threats to, the Arctic. The EU Commission and the EEAS (European External Action Service) are due to “present proposals for the further development of an integrated and coherent Arctic Policy” in the first quarter of 2016. A cornerstone of EU efforts is engagement with the Arctic Council, the high-level intergovernmental forum of States bordering the Arctic, representatives of indigenous peoples, and permanent observers (including seven EU Member States). The Arctic Council has not yet pronounced on the EU’s longstanding application for observer status, and will not do so before 2017. By virtue of its scientific excellence, JRC engagement with the Arctic Council and its subsidiary bodies is therefore currently one of the few channels for direct engagement of the EU with the Arctic Council. This report presents JRC activities in support of the Arctic Council and its bodies, and possibilities for their further development, identifying three alternative paths for future engagement in support of EU Arctic policy making.