The EU must develop a realistic Arctic Strategy otherwise it will not be able to become a member of the Arctic Council. “It is high time that we develop a comprehensive approach”, said Michael Gahler MEP who is the European Parliament Rapporteur on the Arctic Strategy.
The Arctic Council has accepted China, India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore as permanent observers. The decision on the observer status of the EU has been postponed again. Arctic Council founding members are Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Russia, the US and Canada. The decision on the EU has been postponed on the grounds that Canada's concerns had to be met first.
“The European Commission and the European Parliament must develop a better understanding of the situation in the Arctic region. We need to listen closely to our Arctic partners and express the European interest and our contributions to the sustainable development of the Arctic region. Whilst countries such as China have a targeted Arctic strategy with a free-trade agreement with Iceland, for example, the EU seems to lack such strategic determination”, said Gahler.
“We need a clear policy in the areas of environment and climate change, but also on resources and trade. I call on the European Commission to lift the embargo on seal fur. The embargo is there for populist reasons. The seal is no longer an endangered species and thus not protected by the Washington Agreement. The embargo from 2009 has now proven to be a foreign policy disaster for the EU”, said the European Parliament Rapporteur.