“Arctic Buzzes from Brussels” Interview with Steffen Weber in Buzzes from Brussels
Arctic Forum Foundation’s Steffen Weber was interviewed by Buzzes from Brussels in a Policy Briefing by ECORYS focusing on the Arctic.
Buzzes: Where do you see the primary opportunities for the EU in the Arctic?
Steffen Weber: “We have to understand that the EU is engaged in the Arctic in a broader sense than only through its institutions and programmes. The European Union is firstly the world’s largest consumer market for products from Arctic origin, e.g. primarily through gas and oil, with the Arctic capturing approximately one quarter of the global undiscovered resources in oil and gas. Besides this, the Artic also hides minerals and rare earth elements that are vital for the high-tech communication industry. Therefore, the EU can also impose certain quality standards related to sustainable production techniques.
Secondly, Europe is a developer and investor in the Arctic, e.g. through its satellite programmes. The latter is the biggest gap in the EU policies, since they all too often ignore this aspect in their official policy statements. Third, and contrary to the press stressing the conflicts in the Arctic, e.g. Denmark (Greenland) and Canada disputes over the Hans Island, the Arctic serves as a good means for policy-makers to learn more on cooperation between states, regions and communities. Last but not least, the Arctic is also an important element to include in the picture in terms of the EU’s ambitions to preserve the environment and curb climate change.
Buzzes: How can the EU institutions ensure to be on board the Arctic ship?
Steffen Weber: “The main report was the 2011 report of the European Parliament, which built a very realistic and holistic picture of the EU engagement in the Arctic by clearly outlining a list of priorities for which the EC has now entered into with a joint communication in July 2012. The current European Commission’s position is directed at supporting the application for observer status in the Arctic Council. That’s a fine goal. However, the Communication falls short in developing a roadmap or a clear set of actions. That would be particularly relevant in view of the current legislative procedure of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2014 – 2020.
Buzzes: What can be done to open the policy up to more stakeholders?
Steffen Weber: “First and foremost, it will be vital that both politicians and Arctic stakeholders (NGOs, scientists) understand that it is not only one step
from policy to action, but it’s a very complex procedure. Those political procedures function according to their own timing, and according to their own logic. The EU Arctic Forum has been a platform to build bridges between Europe and the Arctic, bringing together actors from civil society, businesses, national administrations and the European Parliament, to enable that their experience and their knowledge are understood in the political processes in Brussels. Only if these two elements come together, whom to approach when and how to translate the document in a clear manner for politicians to
understand it – you have a chance to have proper input.”
You can read the whole policy brief here.