The EU has to take Arctic security and environmental risks seriously

At the meeting of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee we discussed the EU-Arctic policy. This was a timely meeting as I am drafting the European Parliament report on the EU policy for the Arctic region. I emphasised that the report should focus on two key aspects: on the environmental protection of the Arctic region and on security matters.

We have to keep in mind that the situation in the Arctic region has changed significantly in a short time. It would be a mistake from the EU’s side to regard the Arctic as a forever calm and peaceful region, untouched by the international situation.

It is clear that the security dimension of the Arctic has been discussed far too little until now. For instance, the EEAS/EC joint communication on EU’s Arctic policy, published in Spring 2016, does not deal with security and geopolitics at all. All the more the European Parliament should ask for a proper EU-Arctic Strategy.

Our main goal is to keep the Arctic as a low-risk region but at the same time we should not ignore the fact that Russia is more and more militarizing parts of the Arctic.

The developments in the Arctic concerning security, energy and environment affect the security situation in the whole Northern Europe as well as more broadly. It is important to continuously monitor and analyse the situation in the Arctic, with a political and military focus, but also in economic terms, especially with regard to oil and gas reserves, as well as shipping and marine transportation corridors.