Estonian MEP Paet: Changes in Arctic have to be taken seriously

  • 2020-02-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Member of the European Parliament from Estonia Urmas Paet is one of the MEPs who sent a letter to the President of the European Council Ursula von der Leyen and the High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell, calling them to address more seriously matters related to the Arctic region and add the Arctic also to the action plan of the European Commission.

The letter has been joined by many MEPs from different party groups and member states.

In the letter, the MEPs say that the importance of the Arctic region is growing rapidly both as a result of global warming as well as increased economic activity, but also due to the emergence of new transport interconnections and an increase in the region's geopolitical significance. Due to global warming, the Arctic region is becoming increasingly vulnerable, while simultaneously the region is attracting increasing international attention not only in its immediate neighborhood, but also from China, India and Singapore, for instance, which all are interested in having a say in matters of the Arctic, according to the letter.

Paet said that against the backdrop of these developments, the geopolitical role of the EU in the Arctic is modest.

"The European Union is lacking a comprehensive strategy for the Arctic that would take into account all geopolitical and geostrategic aspects of the region," the Estonian MEP said.

Paet said that while activities aimed against global warming are among the priorities of the Commission, Arctic is one of the regions of the world most affected by global warming. In December 2019, the EU Council asked the Commission to update the EU's policy vis-a-vis the Arctic. Despite this, the European Commission makes no mention of Arctic in its 2020 work program, he added.

The MEPs are calling on the Commission to address the developments in the Arctic with full seriousness and to add the Arctic to its work program. They say that a comprehensive strategy on the Arctic must entail also geopolitical and geostrategic aspects, and policy vis-a-vis the Arctic should start to be part of all policymaking areas of the EU. 

Paet also is a founder of the European Parliament-Arctic Friendship Group, which is aimed at keeping the European Parliament up to date on most recent developments in the Arctic region and to encourage the EU to be more active there.