Magazine article Europe-East

Rejected Arctic Council Membership Keeps Eu in the Cold

Magazine article Europe-East

Rejected Arctic Council Membership Keeps Eu in the Cold

Article excerpt

The European Union's most effective forum for voicing its views would be the Arctic Council, if it is allowed to join. Established by the Ottawa Declaration in 1996, it links all states with Arctic territorial claims and is one of the main arenas for countries to coordinate their efforts in the region. The Council also allows non-Arctic states and NGOs to enjoy observer status. The EU submitted its application to be an observer in 2008, but the following year this, along with similar observer status bids by China, Italy and South Korea, was rejected at the Council's meeting in Tromso, Norway.

It is widely speculated that Canada is blocking the accession in retaliation for the EU's recent seal products ban. "Canada doesn't feel that the European Union, at this stage, has the required sensitivity to be able to acknowledge the Arctic Council, as well as its membership, and so therefore I'm opposed to it," said Lawrence Cannon, Canadian foreign minister, who also noted that Canada believes the seal hunt is a sustainable and humane practice. Canada is not alone in rejecting EU membership as seal hunting is a major contributor to the economy of Denmark's Inuits in Greenland. While Norway also engages in seal hunting, unlike Denmark, it chose to support the EU's bid. "Norway shares that view [on the seal ban] with Canada. But for Norway, that's yet another reason to invite the observers in," said Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store. …

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