Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik: Presentation of the Online Survey

On May 26, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) presented preliminary results of the online survey “European Perceptions of the Arctic,” conducted within the research program Geopolitics in the High North. The event was held at the premises of the North Rhine-Westphalia representation office in Brussels and was organized in cooperation with Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (IFS). EU ARCTIC FORUM Brussels was invited to contribute to the feedback session of the presentation.

The general goal of the survey is to identify how Arctic is perceived by the EU and across the EU member states. It targeted representatives of national administrations, sub-national authorities as well as officials of the European institutions. Researchers from academia and think tanks across the EU also participated. A final report is expected in October 2011.

Although the results were presented as a first cut and participation in the survey is still ongoing, some trends and patterns of perception of the High North can be already identified. Carsten Schymik (SWP) pointed to emerging consensus among Europeans in recognizing the geopolitical relevance of the Arctic today and in the future. He added that climate change, protection of environment as well as exploitation of hydrocarbon resources are among the most pressing issues in the Arctic according to respondents’ perception.

Bettina Rudloff (SWP) discussed the complex picture of governance structure in the Arctic that can be observed as well in the survey’s first results. Majority of respondents evaluate the state of today in the High North as both confrontation and cooperation. Yet, the importance of regional (e.g. Arctic Council) and sub-regional (e.g. Barents Euro-Arctic Council) organizations in addressing Arctic developments was clearly seen by Europeans.

Steffen Weber (EU ARCTIC FORUM) participated in the feedback session of the presentation. He indicated that the results of the study, even though preliminary, reveal a trend in perception among EU policy-makers and intellectuals in support of the EU’s more active role in the Arctic.

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