The European Union – An Arctic Actor?

Andreas Østhagen


Since launching its first Arctic communiqué in 2008, the European Union has strived to be accepted as a legitimate Arctic actor. Yet the EU's symbolic quest towards achieving observer status in the Arctic Council has proved disproportionately long and difficult. Despite starting out with lofty ideals about its Arctic engagement, the EU has been forced to re-adjust and modify its approach to the region. This chapter aims to explain why the EU has engaged in the Arctic in the first place and how it has gone about doing so, while also elaborating on the different contentious issues that has come about as a consequence of this engagement. To do this one must first conceptualise the EU as a foreign policy actor, as a tool for understanding the development of an EU Arctic policy.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.