Brussels’ Arctic Aspirations

A quote from Mary Ellen Synon of The Daily Mail, 3 December 2009

The EU has aspirations to gain influence across the Arctic region. Already, three EU countries, Finland, Sweden and Denmark sit on the Arctic Council, alongside Russia, the United States, Canada and Iceland. But the EU has no seat. The council is growing in importance because of the possibilities of the polar thaw creating new shipping lanes through Canada in a Northwest Passage.

There is also the question of mineral resources in the Arctic, and the question of defence installations. Iceland has Keflavik airport, which until the Americans pulled out in 2006, was a key Nato airbase. Indeed, immediately after the financial crash last year, the Russian government stepped in with a loan to the Icelandic government of £3.5bn. Observers reckoned that Russia was trying to get friendly enough to negotiate access to Keflavik.

The EU elite would find it intolerable for all this Arctic negotiation to be going on without them. Judging by their past form, if Iceland joined the EU, they would start demanding a seat on the Arctic Council. They would argue that with four EU countries on the council, Brussels should have a voice.