EU Engagement in the Arctic: Do the Policy Responses from the Arctic States Recognise the EU as a Legitimate Stakeholder?

  • Kamrul Hossain Research Director, Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland

Abstract

The Arctic states are bound in an institutional relationship by means of their actions through the Arctic Council (AC) - an organisation created by the eight Arctic states. Although a number of its European Union (EU) states are both members and observers in the AC, the EU is not, despite its clear stake in the Arctic, for of a number of reasons. The AC twice postponed the application of the EU in 2013; however, it granted the EU the right to observe the AC meetings as an ‘‘observer in principle.’’ In addition to the significant resource and commercial interests of the EU in the Arctic, it assumes a stewardship role in the Arctic. As the leader in combating global climate change, for example, the EU is committed to assuming responsibility for protecting the Arctic environment given that climate change does have a devastating impact in the Arctic. Moreover, the EU is also concerned about its and continental Europe’s only indigenous people, the Sa´mi, a significant proportion of whom live in its Arctic member states of Finland and Sweden. Thus, in recent years, the EU has endorsed a series of policy documents concerning the Arctic. Against the background of this development, this article examines whether the policy responses of the Arctic states with regard to the EU’s increased ambition to engage in Arctic matters make it a legitimate actor or stakeholder. The article concludes that even though the Arctic states, as the primary actors, determine the region’s governance approach, they see also a general partnership role for the EU with regard to the common goals of knowledge-based responsible governance and sustainable development of the Arctic.

(Published: 6 November 2015)

Citation: K. Hossain. ‘‘EU Engagement in the Arctic: Do the Policy Responses from the Arctic States Recognise the EU as a Legitimate
Stakeholder?.’’ Arctic Review on Law and Politics, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2015, pp. 89–110. http://dx.doi.org/10.17585/arctic.v6.97

Published
2015-11-06
How to Cite
Hossain, K. (2015). EU Engagement in the Arctic: Do the Policy Responses from the Arctic States Recognise the EU as a Legitimate Stakeholder?. Arctic Review, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.17585/arctic.v6.97
Section
Original Articles
Keywords
Arctic Council, Arctic states, European Union, climate change, Sa´mi, observer status, stakeholder