Studies and Reports

Untitled Document


TRANSPORT IN THE ARCTIC REGION Directorate General for Research, 1998 [European Parliament]

Authors : Road and Transport Laboratory of the University of Oulu

Committees : Transport and tourism


THE GEOPOLITICS OF ARCTIC NATURAL RESORCES , Directorate General For External Policies, Policy Department (2010), [European Parliament]

Summary : The paper assesses the importance of Arctic resources from geopolitical, economic and legal perspectives. It examines estimates of oil and gas deposits; the outlook for exploitation; jurisdictional and maritime claims; questions of governance, and the potential for geopolitical friction. While the Arctic is estimated to contain about 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30% of its gas, the extraction viability – in the foreseeable future – is questionable. This applies especially to gas because of the shale gas “revolution” and high development and production costs. Overlapping territorial claims do not require urgent solutions; they are more likely to postpone resource development than to create inter-state conflicts. There is, however, ambivalence about governance due to the absence of a UN enforcement mechanism to resolve disputes; the Arctic Council’s lack of political influence; and uncertainty over whether the meetings of the Arctic Ocean states will be turned into an institutionalized decision-making venue. This ambiguity – when coupled with increased pressure by actors, such as the European Union and China, for increased internationalization of the Arctic – could produce friction among the Arctic states and between them and non-Arctic states and organizations. Thus, while the Arctic is currently a low tension area, the long-term geopolitical conflict risks are much greater.

Authors : Valur INGIMUNDARSON, University of Iceland

Committees : Foreign affairs


LEGAL ASPECTS OF ARCTIC SHIPPING: SUMMARY REPORT, European Commission, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, 2010 [ Commission]

Summary: The main purpose of this Study is to examine the international legal regime that applies to the Arctic marine area in terms of shipping and related activities.

The Study:

  • provides an overview of the international law of the sea, its main features and maritime zones in the context of the Arctic marine area;
  • discusses the international legal regime for the regulation of marine shipping;
  • analyzes the national laws and regulations of the coastal Arctic States (Canada, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States of America); and
  • draws conclusions and examines options for multilateral reform and consultation

Authors : Erik Molenaar, Stephen Hodgson, David VanderZwaag, Huni Heidar Hallsson, Tore Henriksen, Lena Holm-Peterson, Maxim Vladimirovich Korel’skiy, James Kraska, Bjarni Már Magnússon, Susan Rolston and Andrew Serdy


OPENING OF NEW ARCTIC SHIPPING ROUTES, Directorate general for external policies, policy department, (2010) [European Parliament]

Summary : Neither the Northwest nor the Northeast Passage has so far become important in international shipping. Nevertheless, the prospects should be re-assessed in light of new circumstances in the Arctic, especially the changing ice situation which makes it possible to envisage a future with drastically increased shipping activity. This paper argues, however, that developments on the two sea routes in question today are not straight forward. In the case of the Northwest Passage, ice problems are expected to remain a major limiting factor for many years and the Canadian authorities are not actively promoting international usage of the route, something which is partly related to legal controversies over the status of the passage. In the case of the Northeast Passage, Russia actively advertises its Northern Sea Route, seeing rapidly improving ice conditions. However, the commercial conditions remain uncertain and necessary investments in icebreakers and infrastructure are so far missing. The Northern Sea Route may, besides its regional usage, especially in the western part, have the potential for limited transits in the most favourable season. The Russian vision of year-round transit traffic seems quite unrealistic within the perspective of this decade.

Authors : Arild MOE and Øystein JENSEN, Fridtjof Nansen Institute

Committees : Foreign affairs


EU COMPENCIES AFFECTING THE ARCTIC, Directorate General For External Policies, Policy Department, 2010 [European Parliament]

Summary : The study will examine the legal competences of the EU - after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty - to influence the development of the Arctic. The particular emphasis of the study will be on the role the European Parliament plays in decision-making in various Arctic-relevant policy areas. The report will address both internal and external competences as well as the consequences of the EEA Agreement for the implementation of EU legislations in Iceland and Norway. The study is structured into two parts. The first part looks into the general principles of competence sharing between the EU and its Member States, as well as the role of the European Parliament in post-Lisbon EU decision-making. The second part examines in more detail eleven sectoral policy areas: what legal competences the EU has in each, what are the legal consequences for Iceland and Norway via the EEA Agreement and what is the role of the European Parliament in EU's decision-making over the development of these various policies in the Arctic.

Authors : Timo KOIVUROVA Kai KOKKO Sébastien, DUYCK Nikolas SELLHEIM Adam STEPIEN

Committees : Foreign affairs


IMPACT OF EU POLICIES ON THE HIGH NORTH: THE CASES OF CLIMATE POLICY AND FISHERIES, Directorate General For External Policies, Policy Department, 2010 [European Parliament]

Summary: The EU has an increased interest towards the Arctic. Whether the EU is a relevant actor in this respect, and how this role should be developed in future, is still under political debate. Against this background, the present paper outlines the general external competences of the EU in the field of climate change and fisheries, taking into consideration the specific relationship between the EU and the Arctic states – characterized by its externality in legal and geographical terms – as well as the relevance of EU climate change and fisheries activities towards this region. From these findings, options for EU activities concerning climate change, fish capture and trade in relation to the Arctic are then developed

Authors : Antje NEUMANN, Dr. Bettina RUDLOFF

Committees : Foreign affairs


ARCTIC GOVERNANCE: BALANCING CHALLENGES AND DEVELOPMENT, Directorate General For External Policies, Policy Department, 2012 [European Parliament]

Summary :The Arctic region is experiencing major changes, which are occurring more rapidly than in any other region of the world, mainly as a result of global warming and climate change. Coupled with new technology, changes in the Arctic have rendered resources that were once well beyond our reach accessible. Commercial ships, for example, are now using Arctic routes each summer to shorten the length of their trips between continents; such routes that would have been impassable only a few decades ago. The fragility of the Arctic environment and of its ecosystems has led to growing concern that they may reach a tipping point, after which they would simply collapse. The rising seas caused by melting Arctic glaciers are only one example of the relation. More robust Arctic governance systems need to be developed soon, particularly as the UNFCCC discussions are not progressing as expected. For The Arctic Council, for example, should be given wider powers. Arctic governance will have to strike a balance between protection and development, and between respecting Arctic States and their inhabitants and recognising the legitimate interests of the rest of the world. Several Arctic States have issued Arctic strategy papers, and the European Commission will this month adopt its second Communication on the EU’s Arctic policy.

Authors : Fernando GARCÉS DE LOS FAYOS (Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, Policy Department, European PArliament)

Committees : Foreign affairs



Abstract: „ The study ―Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment‖ aims to improve the effectiveness of EU environmental policies with respect to the Arctic region. The study will undertake an assessment of the EU‘s current footprint on the Arctic environment and evaluate how it could change over time. The effectiveness of the EU‘s current environment-related policies will also be analysed, including how these policies relate to current and future footprint scenarios. Options for improving EU policy will also be developed. The ―Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment‖ is an initiative of the European Commission, DG Environment under contract EuropeAid/128561/C/SER/Multi. Ecologic Institute leads the project team, which includes three additional institutes: the Arctic Centre, SERI and Stockholm Environment Institute. The analysis and ideas put forward in this report are entirely the responsibility of the contractors and do not necessarily reflect the views of DG Environment. Acknowledgments The project team would like to thank the following experts for providing external reviews of various sections of this report: Ingela Andersson, Betsy Baker, Svante Bodie, Lawson Brigham, Alexey Gusev, Mark Hermanson, Henry Huntington, Pekka Iivari, Carina Keskitalo, Erik Molenaar, Jozef M. Pacyna, Dennis Thurston, Cynthia A. de Wit, and Kenneth Yalowitz. „



This report compares the needs of Arctic stakeholders (as articulated in policies and strategies) with the contribution different types of satellite technologies (communications, weather, navigation, earth observation, surveillance, and science) can make to meet current and future requirements. It will help the European Space Agency (ESA) understand Arctic issues, increase the synergy between ESA activities and Arctic initiatives, and assist ESA in preparing relevant Arctic related programme proposals to meet future requirements.

In recent years, the uniqueness of northern regions and their importance to the world, including EU member countries, have been recognized and efforts have been made to develop policies in a cooperative manner across regions and nations. These police are aimed at resolving the specific environmental, economic development and social challenges faced by northern communities. The major areas of interest to both international and national northern policy groups can be categorised under five broad policy areas (i) safety (ii) environment, (iii) sustainable economic development, (iv) sovereignty, and (v) indigenous/social development.

Space satellite systems can be a powerful tool to meet rapidly evolving stakeholder requirements in the northern context. Construction and maintenance of ground infrastructure is difficult due to extreme climatic conditions, low population density and the inaccessibly of the areas of interest. Under these conditions, satellite technology is ideally suited to provide cost-effective and unique opportunities to meet the communication, weather, navigation, observation, surveillance, and scientific needs of those living and working in northern communities in both Europe and North America.


GREENLAND: THE CHALLENGE OF MANAGING A KEY GEOSTRATEGIC TERRITORY Directorate General For External Policies, Policy Department, 2014 [European Parliament]

Summary : Greenland’s geostrategic location will grow in importance in the coming years – and not only because the island’s melting ice sheet lies at the forefront of climate change concerns. After acquiring home rule status from Denmark in 1979, Greenland’s 2009 Self- Government Act substantially increased its powers, including the management of its substantial untapped natural resources. Despite the difficulties inherent in exploiting these resources, they have already attracted international attention, notably from Asian countries. Although Greenland is still heavily dependent on an annual grant from Copenhagen, the territory will probably become self-sustainable in the medium term. Its sparse population faces a challenge in administering the huge territory. Elections in March 2013 focused mainly on the conditions for implementing large mining and industrial projects in the future and their effects on the Inuit way of life. The vote returned the Siumut party to power, with Greenland’s first female Prime Minister, Aleqa Hammond. Greenland is the only territory to have withdrawn from the European Union, but it remains one of the EU's Overseas Countries and Territories, closely tied to the Union through an extensive partnership agreement and a fisheries protocol. Greenland is also a focus of the EU’s Arctic policy.

Authors : Fernando GARCÉS DE LOS FAYOS (Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, Policy Department, European PArliament)

Committees : Foreign affairs


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