Friday

19th Apr 2019

Magazine

Arctic region to see greater focus in EU aid

  • As the ice melts, the Arctic region is opening up (Photo: Visit Greenland)

In September this year a container ship for the first time completed a trip from China to Rotterdam through the Russian Arctic.

The captain docked in the Dutch port after a month of sailing and in the knowledge that his journey was around 5,000km shorter than if he had gone the traditional Suez Canal route.

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.

... or join as a group

  • The NPP is the EU's smallest transnational programme in terms of money with a budget of around €35m but the area it covers is vast (Photo: Gus MacLeod)

The groundbreaking trip was yet another reminder that the Arctic region, due to melting ice, is slowly being opened up.

The effects of this can be seen geopolitically as the nations in and touching the Arctic circle increasingly seek to regulate, monitor and measure the growing economic interest in the region.

The EU has been seeking for several years to get onto the Arctic Council, the intergovernmental body, that oversees the region. China, which was recently accepted on the Council, has become a major investor in the area.

But interest in the Arctic is manifesting itself at smaller regional levels too.

EU aid

The Northern Periphery Programme (NPP), a group of EU and non EU member states that have clubbed together to get EU regional aid, is for the first time seeking to include the Arctic region in the already large territory that it covers.

Jim Millard, steering reflections on possible programmes to benefit from EU aid in 2014-2020, said the "wilderness of the Arctic has not remained intact this long due to strong legislation but rather because of its remoteness, inaccessibility and harsh climatic conditions of this region."

"These conditions are now changing," he told an audience at an "Arctic Dimension" seminar hosted by the Norwegian authorities in September.

The issue now is "how best to accommodate the emerging Arctic dimension and challenges affecting the programme area," said Millard.

Involving indigenous people, tackling the effects of climate change and growth in economic development are considered among the most important issues.

But Millard noted that because it is sparsely populated and dominated by microbusinesses, the area faces the extra barrier of lacking the "critical mass" for EU-funded programmes.

There is also a wider more general problem - a lack of knowledge about the Arctic.

An Arctic think tank?

Countries and regions already involved in the NPP are considering setting up an Arctic think tank or observation body to collate studies and expertise.

Jose Palma Andres, from the regional unit in the European Commission, said he "welcomed" the emphasis on the Arctic.

He also indicated that projects involving in the Arctic region will have a sympathetic ear in the commission as the region's problems are in line with thematic goals (such as on renewable energy) that projects have to aim for if they are to get Brussels' green light.

But while the emphasis at the Norwegian seminar was on regional cooperation, an official from foreign ministry of Russia - which jealously guards its role in the Arctic - reminded participants that the political buck stops with member states.

The proposal for a thinktank was "a very interesting point" said Igor Kapyrin but it is something that should be first be proposed to the Arctic Council.

This story was originally published in EUobserver's 2013 Regions & Cities Magazine.

Click here to read previous editions of our Regions & Cities magazine.

Focus

Arctic shipping routes unlikely to be 'Suez of the north'

Shipping and mineral companies are salivating at the prospect of new shipping routes in the Arctic as sea ice begins its global warming-induced retreat. The North Sea Route could be a boon for northern European companies. But caveats abound, not least for the environment.

Fears of Arctic conflict are 'overblown'

The Arctic has become a new frontier in international relations, but fear of potential conflict in the resource-rich region is overblown, say experts.

Focus

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.

Magazine

A deep dive into the EU regional funds

While the regional funds account for a full third of the EU budget, they are somewhat under-reported. EUobserver's latest edition of the Regions & Cities magazine looks at the EU's cohesion policy.

Magazine

A deep dive into the EU regional funds

While the regional funds account for a full third of the EU budget, they are somewhat under-reported. EUobserver's latest edition of the Regions & Cities magazine looks at the EU's cohesion policy.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us