Today, the European Commission has released an Integrated European Union Policy for the Arctic in its joint communication to the European Parliament and the Council. Building on previous initiatives, the policy focuses on advancing international cooperation in responding to the impacts of climate change on the Arctic’s fragile environment, and on promoting and contributing to sustainable development, particularly in the European part of the Arctic.
As part of its strategic commitment to the Arctic, the policy recommends that EU should engage with the region on these three priority areas:
- Climate change and safeguarding the Arctic environment;
- Promoting sustainable development in the region;
- Supporting international cooperation on Arctic issues.
The EU’s Arctic policy will be an important element in implementing the COP21 agreement, setting out a global action plan to limit global warming to well below 2 °C. The policy also stresses the importance of advancing research, science and innovation, as well as the ocean governance in the region. Furthermore, the policy will contribute to the implementation of the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals.
EU has an important role in facilitating international scientific cooperation through transnational access to research infrastructure and open data. The Commission is developing a multi-resolution map of the entire seabed and overlying water column. The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is working with over 100 organisations, including from Iceland, Norway and Russia, to make their marine data more accessible, interoperable and useful to end-users. Data will be available through a single web portal.
EU research on climate change in the Arctic will also be supported by EU space programmes. The operational infrastructure and services of Copernicus will provide input to Arctic research activities, including weather monitoring, monitoring of climate variables and ice thickness, and improved ocean modelling. Furthermore, EUR 40 million have been committed under the EC 2016-2017 work programme to Arctic-related research. The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) also provide funding for research and innovation activities in the fields of climate change and environment in the Arctic.
An Integrated European Union Policy for the Arctic – European Commission’s Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council, 27 April 2016 Read here
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