The European Union’s ‘never again’ Arctic narrative

Journal of Contemporary European Studies, published online 20.03.2023. DOI: 10.1080/14782804.2023.2193735

Over the past few decades, the European Union has presented itself on the world stage as a norm entrepreneur and global maritime power. However, this claim to power is belied by its recent experience of a surge in crises – both of domestic and international origin. Nonetheless, the EU’s 2021 update to its Arctic Policy noted that, due to the Union’s strategic Arctic interests, full engagement in Arctic matters is a geopolitical necessity for the EU. Given the augmented attention on the Arctic region for climate, economic and, increasingly, for security reasons, this is not surprising. However, it does beg the question of how the EU intends to involve itself more thoroughly in Arctic affairs. This article seeks to explore the extent to which the Union’s foundational narrative of ‘never again’ regarding conflict and war can explain EU actions in the Arctic, the EU as a peaceful maritime power and its broader approach to ocean governance, particularly in the Circumpolar North.



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