Thursday

21st Jun 2018

Focus

China beats EU to Arctic Council membership

  • An oil spill in the Arctic would take decades to recover from, says the WWF (Photo: Gus MacLeod)

The Arctic Council at its biannual meeting on Wednesday (15 May) in Sweden allowed in six new observer states, but deferred the EU's application until a later date.

China, along with India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, are now part of a select club of countries that oversee the exploitation and conservation of a changing landscape in the polar cap.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

“It strengthens the position of the Arctic Council on the global scene,” said Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt.

The six new observers join six previous non-Arctic countries with observer status - France, Germany, the Netherlands,

Poland, Spain and the UK.

The fully fledged members with a vote on the council are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States, with Canada taking over the council chairmanship from Sweden on Wednesday.

The entire region is drawing intense interest as ice packs melt, opening up new shipping routes and access to abundant supplies of oil and gas.

The Council in a signed declaration said it would aim to protect the environment and indigenous populations but also noted “the central role of business in the development of the Arctic.”

Canada’s Leona Aglukkaq, a conservative health minister, is on the Council’s chair.

She said it will focus on “creating economic development” during its two year role.

As for the new observer states, Aglukkaq said she welcomed their interests in development, shipping, and trade.

The pro-environment group WWF says the Arctic holds the world’s largest remaining untapped gas reserves and some of its largest undeveloped oil reserves. The group says the rush to tap the resource imperils the fragile environment and eco-system.

Meanwhile, the EU snub finds it origin in an outstanding dispute between Canada and the EU over seal fur trade, reports the BBC.

Canadian Inuit and the fur trade industry challenged the three-year ban but lost the case in April in the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in a joint statement with European Commissioner of maritime affairs Maria Damanaki said the “EU will now work expeditiously with them [Canada] to address the outstanding issue of their concern.”

Aglukkaq is against the seal fur ban and has described the problem as being “huge,” reports Canada’s Globe and Mail.

EU court upholds seal fur ban

The EU ban on seal fur will remain intact after the bloc's highest court threw out a legal challenge by the Canadian Inuit and the country's fur trade.

Russia re-submits Arctic claims to UN

Russia Tuesday announced it had submitted a revised application to the UN seeking the expansion of its Arctic shelf border, rich in oil and other natural resources.

Magazine

Arctic region to see greater focus in EU aid

The recent groundbreaking trip by a container ship from China to Rotterdam was yet another reminder that the Arctic region is slowly being opened up.

In Iceland: Europe woos Arctic allies

The EU is requesting a status of observer at the Arctic Council, a regional forum in which Asian countries are already active.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us