NEW Report on EU Arctic Policy

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The Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly, and within the next decade polar warming may transform the High North from an inaccessible frozen desert into a seasonally navigable ocean. The prospects of exploiting the Arctic Ocean’s rich natural resources and gaining access to vital new shipping routes, particularly between Europe and Asia, have led to increased economic and political interest in the region. Rapid environmental change and the Arctic’s emergent economic potential may challenge the geo-strategic balance in a region where institutions, boundaries, rules, and customary norms have yet to be established or remain weak.                                        
The European Union, as the world’s largest exporter of goods and largest importer of fossil fuel resources, has significant economic and energy security interests in the region. Yet it has failed to respond adequately to the changing political environment. The existing regulatory and governance regime, the Arctic Council, has become inadequate, and given the pace of change it is difficult to see how the Arctic can be managed effectively within this regime.                                                                                                     
This memorandum explores possible alternatives, including developing a new international framework for the region. It also provides policy recommendations on how the EU can best secure its strategic economic and energy security interests—including by incorporating Arctic policy into bilateral treaties.