Arctic policy: importance of the Arctic is growing
The Arctic region is warming up more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe. The ice is melting and the permafrost thawing. Many of the factors responsible for this warming are found further south. At the same time, changes taking place in northern regions are accelerating climate change to the south. The level of interaction between the Arctic and the rest of the world is rising, and the Arctic is increasingly a global issue.
In the coming years and decades, the Arctic region will be of greater strategic significance both for Europe and globally. The easier exploitation of natural resources and improved navigability and connections will generate growing interest in the region in the future. Greater economic activity will increase environmental impacts and risks, but with EU action these can be reduced and efforts made to combat them.
Climate change mitigation is a key priority for the Finnish Presidency and for Arctic policy
The Finnish Presidency advocates an EU policy that respects the need to protect the Arctic region’s stability and its fragile natural environment and to safeguard the region’s economic potential and employment prospects. A key focus should be on climate change mitigation financed with EU funds for research, development and innovation.
All activity in the Arctic region should be based on climate protection, the carrying capacity of nature and the principles of sustainable development. Northern livelihoods and the rights of indigenous peoples must be secured, and all major projects in the Arctic region should be subject to detailed impact assessments.
Determined to promote the stability of the Arctic region, Finland's Presidency will strive to help keep the Arctic free from military tensions.
For the EU, Arctic policy represents an instrument for achieving wider goals in EU climate policy and external relations and in the promotion of a sustainable economy and innovations. Finland supports enhanced implementation of the EU’s third Arctic Communication in all internal and external action of the EU.
Arctic Council plays a key role
In Arctic cooperation, Finland seeks a stronger role for the Arctic Council and supports the work of the Arctic Economic Council. The Arctic Council brings together governments, indigenous peoples and the research community in a unique manner. The EU participates in the Arctic Council’s working groups, and Finland has been in favour of a formalisation of the observer status currently enjoyed by the EU within the Council.
The Finnish Presidency will draw on the results obtained by the Arctic Council under Finland’s chairmanship during 2017–2019 in fields such as the environment, safe navigation, promotion of a sustainable economy, reduction of black carbon emissions and their climate and health impacts, communications, meteorology, education and training, the use of new space technology and combating wildfires.
The EU’s first international high-level event on Arctic policy, ‘A Sustainable Arctic – Innovative Approaches’, was organised jointly with Finland in the northern Finnish city of Oulu in 2017.
During its ongoing Presidency of the Council of the EU, Finland is organising an event on European regional cooperation in the North, ‘A Clean and Global North’, which will take place in Helsinki on 28–29 November 2019.
The EU’s Arctic policy
Implementation of the EU’s Arctic policy is founded on the third Arctic Communication of the European Commission and the European External Action Service, Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council – An integrated European Union policy for the Arctic, published in 2016, and the related Council Conclusions on the Arctic. More information on the EU’s Arctic policy is available on the ‘EU Arctic Policy’ page of the European External Action Service.
Harri Mäki-Reinikka, Ambassador for Northern Policies, Secretary General for Finland’s Arctic Advisory Board, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 351 972, harri.maki-reinikka(at)formin.fi
Pekka Shemeikka, Senior adviser, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 351 944, pekka.shemeikka(at)formin.fi