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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Arctic environment (
Traité relatif à la protection de l’environnement Arctique,
Treaty for the
Protection of the Arctic Environment
) that is said to have led to the famous “French
Amendment” (article 15) of the
European Parliament resolution of 9 October 2008 on Arctic
(Arctic Governance resolution). This resolution calls “on the EU Council of
Ministers to initiate, as soon as possible, talks aimed at adopting an international treaty
protecting the Arctic”.
Consistent with the
Grenelle de l’Environnement
and the work of the
CP, the ‘French Amendment’ stipulates “(…) the Commission should be prepared to pursue
the opening of international negotiations designed to lead to the adoption of an international
treaty for the protection of the Arctic” (European Parliament, 2008). A massive 597 MEP’s
in total voted in favor of the 2008 Arctic Governance resolution.
France’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2008 is another example of how French
foreign policy was ‘going polar’, by trying this time to “raise public awareness on the urgent
need to conduct scientific research in the Arctic to protect the environment” (République
française, 2011). Fabio Liberti from IRIS in Paris explains that before Nicolas Sarkozy took
the EU Presidency, “France had all but disappeared from the European political map
between 2005 and 2007, following the French rejection of the Constitutional Treaty in the
2005 referendum, opted for by Jacques Chirac” (Liberti, 2008). He goes on to explain that
“Sarkozy’s primary objectives were firstly to show the world that France was back in Europe
and to reclaim the influence that France had lost by the end of Chirac’s mandate and
secondly to make progress on the issues that have historically been an integral part of French
foreign policy (ibid). Four priorities guided policy during the French EU Presidency:
immigration; reforming CAP; making progress on the climate-energy package; and reviving
the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) (ibid). The Arctic was addressed through
at least two of these priorities: climate-energy and ESDP.
Indeed, France had previously positioned itself within the EU as a member state that shapes
and shares the Union’s posture when dealing with Arctic issues. In 2008, French
ambassador-at-large for the environment, Laurent Stefanini (Rocard was yet to be named
polar ambassador), declared, in Greenland, that while
France is presiding over the Council of the European Union, [it] is also a
demonstration that the EU feels directly concerned and wishes to be involved in
the debate. The Arctic is fully part of the Nordic dimension of the EU joint
foreign and security policy and you can rely on our determination to push