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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Weber, Pelaudeix and Romanyshyn
The joint Communication does too little to help answer the question. First, the specificity of EU
objectives does not really emerge from the document. The European Union wants to engage more
with Arctic partners to increase its awareness of their concerns and to address “common challenges
in a collaborative manner”. Second, if the first Arctic Communication comprised a mix between
policy objectives and benchmarks with 49 “proposals for action”, in the new Communication any
indication of benchmarks disappears and it is not clear whether the EU will follow them in the
future. No action plan is delivered or mentioned as planned for the next multi-annual financial
framework. The document lacks indication on what is the “way forward” and with which actions to
reach it. Regarding “Knowledge”, the formulation of research priorities is vague, and so is the
cooperation with Arctic states on establishing research infrastructure. In terms of “Responsibility”,
although it is crucial for the EU to ensure access to raw materials and maritime routes, no references
are made in the document to the level playing field, reciprocal market access and anti-discriminatory
practices as fundamental principles of EU’s external relations. Regarding “Engagement”, and the
support to the region’s stability, no reference is made either to any specific objectives, nor any
The joint Communication is actually structured as a combination of a progress report, underlining
the huge contribution the EU has already made to the region, and of some elements of policy which
do not provide a clear vision of the EU for the region. Clearly, the joint Communication stands as
another message to the Arctic Council, of which some members still doubt EU’s legitimate posturing
in the Arctic. Yet, it remains to be seen whether the new Communication proves to be a smart
tactical move to win more support for the status as an observer in the Arctic Council or rather
highlights what is missing to present a coherent and ambitious EU Arctic strategy.