Geopolitics and security in the Arctic: what role for the EU?

European View, published online 27.11.2017, 11 p.

The Arctic has received considerable attention over the last decade due to climate change, positive resource appraisals and the increased military presence in the region. Portrayals range from those that warn of impending conflicts to those that emphasise the region’s unique cooperative environment. To what extent are the generalisations about Arctic security and geopolitics accurate? What fuels these generalisations? Moreover, what is the role of the EU in this changing geopolitical environment? This article examines the causes of conflict in the Arctic and argues that the disputes over territory, resources and the North Pole are limited in magnitude. At the same time, the security dynamics within the Arctic are relevant, given each state’s relations to Russia. The EU’s role, however, is less a geopolitical one and more concerned with two dimensions, namely awareness and support. For EU policymakers and decision-makers, understanding the complexities of the north should take priority over re-inventing the Union’s role in the region.

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