As part of the EU's efforts to define its role in Arctic management and decision making, the European Commission Directorate-General for the Environment funded the EU Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment to determine its impact, responsibilities, and policy options to protect the Arctic. This article summarizes the key findings from the study, and presents an overview of the EU's Arctic footprint. The article is available for download.
While the EU is a relative newcomer to Arctic policy, since 2007 when the Arctic was first mentioned in the international dimension of the Integrated Maritime Policy, the EU’s interests in the region have been more clearly articulated by the Commission Communication (2008), Council Conclusions (2009), and most recently, by the European Parliament in the 2011 "Resolution on a Sustainable EU policy for the High North". The EU sees a clear responsibility in helping other Arctic and non-Arctic states protect the region’s fragile environment. The EU Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment presents an overview of the EU’s footprint for nine environmental issue areas:
- chemicals and transboundary pollution,
- climate change,
- transport and
- Arctic indigenous and local livelihoods.
The footprint calculation considers production and consumption activities that occur within the EU, as well as within the Arctic that can be attributed to EU demand. Policy options target key impacts within each of the nine issue areas.