ARCHIVE – The EU wants to encourage countries like Russia and Norway to less exploit the Arctic. Photo: Kirill Kukhmar / TASS / dpa
In order to achieve this goal, according to a communication on Wednesday, the European Commission will advocate a multilateral agreement that prohibits the exploitation of deposits that have not yet been developed. In addition, such an agreement could prohibit companies from buying extracted raw materials.
Currently exploited deposits are in high demand in the EU. According to a study report, 87 percent of the liquefied natural gas produced in the Russian Arctic was recently exported to the EU.
One reason given for the initiative is the risk of new environmental disasters. Due to the prevailing weather conditions in the Arctic, there is a “particular difficulty in taking emergency and cleaning measures in the event of industrial or marine accidents,” says the communication from EU foreign representative Josep Borrell and the EU Commission.
This is also relevant because the Arctic is already threatened by climate change. “The region is warming up three times as fast as the rest of the planet,” said EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius in Brussels.
It is currently unclear whether there is any chance of persuading countries like Russia to renounce the extraction of fossil fuels in the Arctic in a legally effective manner. This is supported by the fact that the European market is very important for the country and a possible EU import ban on Arctic gas could call into question investments in the development of new deposits. At the same time, relations between Russia and the EU are still extremely tense and Moscow has been preventing the EU from receiving official observer status in the Arctic Council for years because of annoyance at the EU-Ukraine policy.
The Council is currently the most important forum for cooperation in the region around the North Pole. All eight Arctic states belong to it. In addition to Russia and Norway, these are also the EU countries Denmark, Finland and Sweden as well as the USA, Canada and Iceland. In the United States, the government of President Joe Biden had stopped plans to explore and exploit oil deposits in Alaska for the time being.