S&Ds: Arctic should remain a low-tension zone of constructive international cooperation

S&Ds: Arctic should remain a low-tension zone of constructive international cooperation

The Socialists and Democrats voted today in favour of a strong and integrated EU policy for the Arctic that takes into consideration the geopolitical and environmental importance of the region and respects the fundamental rights of the indigenous people.

The S&Ds call on the Commission and member states to better protect the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem by introducing a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in maritime transport.

The joint report of the parliamentary committees for foreign affairs and the environment reflects the geopolitical and environmental dimensions of the EU Arctic policy. It highlights the growing importance of the Arctic region, especially in light of the effects of climate change and increasing competition for natural resources, which pose new environmental and security risks for the region and the world.

S&D Group negotiator for foreign affairs, Liisa Jaakonsaari MEP, said:

“I am glad that the resolution highlights good international cooperation in the Arctic where conflicts are resolved through dialogue and cooperation between equal partners and on the basis of international law.

“This pragmatic cooperation functions irrespective of tensions and other conflicts elsewhere and as such, there should be no need for any militarisation of the Arctic.  We put emphasis on the ongoing constructive cross-border cooperation with Russia, with whom we want to continue our engagement and dialogue on issues of common concern, challenges and threats that require global solutions.”

“It is important that the voices of local and indigenous peoples are heard and their rights are respected and strengthened in the decision making processes. Moreover, it is important to connect the Arctic region with the rest of Europe and the world. For this, we need sustainable infrastructure development and the Commission should explore broader international cooperation for its realisation.”

S&D Group negotiator for environment, Christel Schaldemose MEP, added:

“With this resolution we stress the important role the Arctic plays in the fight against climate change. The region suffers the most from emissions from the rest of the world. It is therefore crucial that, together with the Arctic States, we protect the Arctic’s unique ecosystems as well as our oceans. To achieve this, we should cooperate with the Arctic states including the indigenous peoples in order to limit the consequences and ensure sustainable development in the region. We call on the EU and its member states to actively push, through international fora, for a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil.”