“Adding a complex political entity like the European Union to a heterogeneous region like the Arctic with its many actors, interests and institutions adds to the highly complex picture of the evolving Arctic governance landscape”, states Professor Koivurova from the University of Lapland. This was one of the key messages of the 2nd ‘Mare Talk’ “Status Quo after Kiruna – The role of the EU in the Arctic” which was organized by IASS and Ecologic Institute on November 25, 2013 in Berlin. Focusing on the evolving role of the European Union as a non-Arctic actor in the region, distinguished guest speakers from academia, politics and the NGO sector gave presentations about the institutional developments in the Arctic.
Arctic governance continually evolves and especially within the Arctic Council, a high level intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, significant developments have been taking place. Two new agreements on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) and on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response (MOPPR) have been negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. However, as was pointed out during the discussion, increasing economic activity poses environmental risks and dangers. It was thus suggested that Arctic governance is not an issue for Arctic states alone but that it is indeed a matter of global concern.
The EU’s interest in the region has gradually increased and its Arctic policy is slowly materializing as highlighted by the 2012 Communication “Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region” and “The inventory of activities in the framework of developing a European Union Arctic Policy”. Yet, the Arctic is a highly heterogeneous region and the EU faces geographical limitations with regard to direct influence on Arctic governance, while being itself a highly complex political body. Though there is a learning process on behalf of the EU with regard to the sensitivities of Arctic actors, a clear role for it has yet to be defined.
At the event, Professor Timo Koivurova (Arctic Centre, University of Lapland) Arne Riedel (Ecologic Institute), Dr. Jaime Reynolds (European Commission), and Christoph von Lieven (Greenpeace Germany) participated as speakers. The event was co-chaired by Dr. Birgit Lode (IASS) and Susanne Altvater (Ecologic Institute).
After the first two ‘Mare Talks’ in 2012 and in November 2013 have been a great success, the IASS Potsdam and the Ecologic Institute plan to host such talks more regularly in the future.