The EU needs a two-tier approach towards the Arctic: a general policy for the Circumpolar Arctic and a concrete strategy for the European Arctic

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paperProfessional


The new EU Arctic communication will probably be published in the first months of 2016. It is expected that there will be a clearer differentiation between the two Arctic policy spaces in which EU operates, namely the European Arctic and the Circumpolar Arctic. These are associated with different sets of issues and are managed by different EU services, but so far they have been confounded in EU policy statements. The EU should go one step further and devise a two-tier policy: on one hand, a general policy referring to the Circumpolar Arctic, on the other, a concretized strategy dealing with specific challenges for the European Arctic. While still brought under the umbrella of one document, these general policy and specific strategy tiers could be drafted through partly separate processes led by different EU services and the European Commission’s directorates general, with participation of different stakeholders. This is the only feasible way to accommodate both the EU’s circumspection regarding engagement in Arctic Ocean and Circumpolar affairs and the European northernmost regions’ expectations towards the EU’s Arctic policy. As the drafting of the new communication is at an advanced stage, the upcoming document should at least envisage exploring the need and possibility of formulating a two-tier Arctic “policy + strategy”.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationWashington, DC
PublisherThe Arctic Institute
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2015
MoEC publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study