COUNCIL CONCLUSIONS ON ARCTIC ISSUES (8 DEC 2009) [Amending Council Draft Conclusion on Arctic Issues, 8 December, 2008]

On December 8th, 2009 the Council adopted its Conclusions on Arctic issues (2985th FOREIGN AFFAIRS Council meeting). It welcomed the gradual formulation of a policy on Arctic issues to address EU interests and responsibilities, while recognising Member States’ legitimate interests and rights in the Arctic.

The Council considered that an EU Arctic Policy should be based on:

– Effective implementation by the international community of adequate measures to mitigate climate change that are required to preserve the unique characteristics of the Arctic region;

– Reinforced multilateral governance through strengthening and consistent implementation of relevant international, regional and bilateral agreements, frameworks and arrangements;

– The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other relevant international instruments;

– Formulating and implementing EU actions and policies that impact on the Arctic with respect

for its unique characteristics, in particular the sensitivities of ecosystems and their biodiversity as well as the needs and rights of Arctic residents, including the indigenous peoples;

– Maintaining the Arctic as an area of peace and stability and highlighting the need for responsible, sustainable and cautious action in view of new possibilities for transport, natural resource extraction and oother entrepreneurial activities linked to melting sea ice and other climate change effects.

The Council agreed with the Commission on the need of further work, nevertheless approved the three main objectives proposed by the Commission:

  • Protecting and preserving the Arctic in unison with its population;
  • Promoting sustainable use of natural resources;
  • Contributing to enhanced governance in the Arctic through implementation of relevant agreements, frameworks and arrangements, and their further development.

The Council articulated its view on Arctic issues in 23 points, stretching from environmental scopes to interests in the sustainable development of Arctic resources and consideration of Arctic governance. Special attention was given to Arctic marine resources and environment, and, „[w]ith respect to the gradual opening, in the years to come, of trans-oceanic Arctic routes for shipping and navigation, the Council reiterates the rights and obligations for flag, port and coastal states provided for in international law, including UNCLOS, in relation to freedom of navigation, the right of innocent passage and transit passage, and will monitor their observance“.

The Council concluded by requesting the Commission to present a report on progress made areas by the end of June 2011.


[Council conclusions, binding on the Commission, express the unanimous political agreement by all Member States on the matter examined, and do often form the basis for further consideration or action. The Council Conclusions virtually outline EU’s position]


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