Saturday

26th May 2018

MEPs endorse exploitation of Arctic resources

  • The parliament wants the Arctic to be protected, but it also wants it to be exploited for its vast energy resources (Photo: David Lundy)

The European Union must push for an international treaty governing the Arctic if the rapidly melting and delicate region is to be saved, the European Parliament urged in a resolution on Thursday (9 October) that received overwhelming cross-party support.

The European Commission must begin to take a "pro-active" role in the Arctic - until recently a region largely ignored by the EU executive - reads the resolution, which was supported by 597 lawmakers, with 23 against and 41 abstentions.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

MEPs want the commission to win observer status in the Arctic Council - the international body of Arctic-bordering nations - and set up a dedicated "Arctic Desk."

In adopting the resolution, MEPs said they were concerned about the melting ice-cap and permafrost, rising sea levels and how the retreating ice is destroying animal habitats, not least of that of the polar bear.

The chamber wants the commission to open international negotiations that would lead to the adoption of an international treaty for the protection of the Arctic. Currently, the Arctic is not governed by any specific international mechanism, as is the Antarctic under the 1993 Madrid Treaty.

However, in a fudge that allowed both supporters of Arctic preservation and supporters of expanded resource extraction to support the same resolution, the chamber called on the commission to include proposals for joint working procedures for the EU and Arctic countries on both climate change and security of energy supply.

The parliament said it supports the Arctic Council in maintaining the high north as a zone of "low tension," open to international research co-operation, but also to allow the full development of its potential as a future energy supplier region in a "sustainable" manner.

Some 22 percent of the remaining undiscovered and recoverable resources left on the planet are to be found somewhere in the Arctic, including vast gas, oil and minerals, US scientists estimate.

Additionally, while much of the world's fish stocks are in free-fall, those in the high north remain ripe for exploitation, believes the European Commission, which sent fisheries commissioner Joe Borg to the most recent meeting of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Ilulissat, Greenland in September.

Arctic gold rush

At the time, Mr Borg said: "As the ice recedes, we are presented with a first-time opportunity to use transport routes such as the Northern Sea Route.

"This would translate into shorter transportation routes and greater trading possibilities, and will provide a better opportunity to draw upon the wealth of untapped natural resources in the Arctic."

In mid-September, energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs declared: "You cannot say [the Arctic] is a sanctuary ... otherwise, where will we get our energy from?" at a Brussels debate with environmental group WWF.

WWF has called the idea of drilling in the Arctic "perverse," and wants a moratorium on any drilling and commercial exploitation of the region.

The MEPs also said that they are concerned that the ongoing race for Arctic resources could lead to security threats for the EU.

The sentiment echoes a joint EU member state-European-Commission report published in March that called on the EU to boost its civil and military capacities to respond to "serious security risks," resulting from catastrophic climate change.

The threat of an intensified "scramble for resources" in the Arctic "as previously inaccessible regions open up" was singled out for attention.

Debt relief talks mar Greek bailout exit

While the Greek government has committed to fulfill the last creditors' requirements in the coming month, Europeans and the International Monetary Fund are still far from an agreement on measures to reduce the country's debt in the future.

EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption

EU trade chief said the US will impose tariffs or "other limiting measures" on 1 June, as the EU's offer to start limited trade talks is probably not enough for the protectionist Trump presidency.

Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures

The EU parliament's budget rapporteur complained the Commission is using numbers with a "desire to confuse". According to parliament estimates, the cohesion fund could suffer as much as a 45 percent cut.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations