Table of Contents

Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Edited by Leif Christian Jensen and Geir Hønneland

The Arctic has again become one of the leading issues on the international foreign policy agenda, in a manner unseen since the Cold War. Drawing on the perspectives of geo-politics and international law, this Handbook offers fresh insights and perspectives on the most pressing issues, grouped under the headings of political ascendancy, climate and environmental issues, resources and energy, and the response and policies of affected countries.

Chapter 27: The European Union’s Arctic policy

Njord Wegge

Subjects: environment, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international politics


This chapter investigates the development of a European Union (EU) Arctic policy, specifically asking the following questions: Why did the EU decide to develop an Arctic policy? Second, how did this process happen? And, third, what are the main elements of this policy, which is still under development? Based on interviews, document analysis and secondary literature on the EU’s Arctic and foreign policy, this chapter identifies and suggests three basic levels of analysis as most relevant for explaining the evolution of the Arctic policy (Risse-Kappen 1996; Hix 2005: 374–405; Pollack 2010; Smith 2011). These are as follows: 1) the internal level: viewing EU foreign policy initiatives as the output of a unique ‘organization’; 2) the state level: in particular accounting for the role played by external actors, primarily states; and 3) the systemic level: viewing the EU and its foreign policy as dependent on structural conditions within the global system. The investigation of the EU’s Arctic policy is a qualitative case study where the method of ‘process tracing’ is applied (George and Bennett 2005). The empirical data presented in the chapter largely rely on document analyses and semi-structured interviews with government representatives of the Arctic states, the EU Commission and officials representing various non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Secondary literature on EU’s foreign policy has been consulted.

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