Friday

23rd Feb 2018

Focus

Power struggle in Greenland: Three reasons why the EU should care

  • According to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council (AMAP), 70% of the Arctic’s contribution to rising sea levels comes from Greenland. (Photo: Visit Greenland)

On Monday (24 April), Greenland’s hard-hitting foreign minister, Vittus Qujaukitsoq, unexpectedly withdrew from Greenland’s cabinet and declared that he will challenge Kim Kielsen, Greenland’s premier, as leader of the self-rule government in Nuuk, the capital.

It is all about more autonomy and eventual independence from Denmark, to which Greenland still belongs.

It is going to be a nasty fight. Here are three reasons why Europeans should care:

Firstly, Greenland holds vast deposits of minerals of strategic importance to industry. These include some of the largest deposits of rare earth minerals outside China, which controls some 90 percent of the world’s rare earth mineral production.

Already in 2012, Antonio Tajani, the then vice-president of the European Commission, travelled to Nuuk to strike a deal that would keep Greenland’s rare earth minerals out of the hands of the Chinese. In exchange, Greenland got EU support to develop a mining sector.

The mining industry, however, has been hesitant to invest in Greenland with its harsh climate and limited infrastructure. Political instability in Greenland could push mining in Greenland further into the future.

Secondly, Greenland has been sympathetic to the EU’s wish to increase its role in the Arctic.

Greenland withdrew from the EU in 1985, the first nation ever to do so, long before Brexit, but today it enjoys cooperation with the EU over fisheries, which provides substantial revenues and support.

Other Arctic players – Russia and Canada, in particular – have proven far less friendly to the EU’s Arctic plans. Brussels needs to remain a close friend to whomever wins the top job in Nuuk.

Finally, Greenland offers unique opportunities in the field of climate science.

As this week’s report from AMAP, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council confirms, 70 percent of the Arctic’s contribution to rising sea levels comes from Greenland.

If the EU is serious about climate science, Greenland is the place to be.

Denmark and Greenland are preparing for a new scientific hub in Greenland. To come out on top, the EU needs to be part of it and able to navigate Greenland’s political elite.

Reshuffling problems

Foreign minister Qujaukitsoq's resignation was triggered by a cabinet reshuffle.

Kielsen, the premier, wanted to relieve Qujaukitsoq of his responsibilities and have him focus on trade and industry.

Feeling demoted, Qujaukitsoq announced his resignation and declared his intent to replace Kielsen at a conference of Siumut, the ruling party, this summer.

The two disagree on how to continue Greenland’s long quest for increased autonomy and eventual independence from the Kingdom of Denmark.

Kim Kielsen has stood by his party’s wish for full independence, but he wants firstly to prioritise education, job-creation and efforts to cure social ills.

Increasing impatience

Others in Greenland, including Qujaukitsoq, have become increasingly impatient with Kielsen’s course.

Qjaukitsoq argues for increased Greenlandic powers over it’s foreign policy, which is controlled to a large degree by Denmark.

He has called for renegotiation of the 1951 agreement between Washington and Denmark that gives the United States the right to operate Thule Air Base in northern Greenland. Last year, without consulting Kielsen, Qujaukitsoq lashed out at an “arrogant” Denmark, unleashing what he described as “75 years of pent up frustration”.

Though he failed in 2014 to be elected to Inatsisartut, the national assembly, Qujaukitsoq became Greenland’s most dynamic cabinet member, attending meetings one week in Anchorage, in Beijing the next, to promote Greenland’s minerals, oil, gas, fish and tourism industry.

The foreign affairs portfolio now passes to Suka K. Frederiksen, Greenland’s minister for independence, a portfolio only invented last year.

Frederiksen has no former experience with foreign affairs.

Nordic states divided on Trump

US president Donald Trump has upset many of the values dear to Nordic nations. But the region lacks common strategies for how to stand against the US president.

Trump says US could stay in Paris deal

President Donald Trump hinted that the US could 'conceivably' stay in the Paris climate change agreement, during a meeting in which Norway's PM pointed out the sales of US-made Tesla electric cars in her country.

Interview

Nordic-Baltic digital market 'no threat to EU'

'What we want do is add value on top, and do things' such as border controls and free data movement, said Norwegian state secretary Paul Chaffey about Nordic-Baltic digital cooperation.

Stakeholder

Behind the scenes of the Nordic model

The Nordic is comprised of 74 regions and, combined, is the 12th largest economy in the world. The State of the Nordic Region 2018 gives a unique look behind the scenes of the world's most integrated region.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  2. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  3. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  4. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired
  5. Luxembourg and Ireland pay highest minimum wages
  6. Freedom of expression under threat in Spain, warn MEPs
  7. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  8. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  2. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  3. European far-right political party risks collapse
  4. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table
  5. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  6. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  7. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  8. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?