Status as permanent observer to the Arctic Council has for several years been a priority for the European Commission and was highlighted also in the new EU Arctic strategy, a document presented in early July this year.
Now, the application finally looks set to be approved by the eight council member states.
In a conference on Monday, Norway’s Ambassador to the Arctic Council Karsten Klepsvik confirmed that the EU is likely to be granted observer status in next year’s council session in Kiruna, Sweden.
“Norway has worked hard for the EU in the Arctic Council”, Klepsvik said at the conference, which was organized by the EU Commission’s Delegation to Norway. “Hopefully, the application will be accepted in Kiruna”, he added.
The Norwegian diplomat stressed that “the EU has legitimate interests in the Arctic” and that “Norway warmly welcomes the EU application”.
Speaking at the seminar, European Commission representative Zusanna Bieniuk underlined that the EU also works actively within the frames of the Barents Cooperation and that it is giving input in the ongoing process with the elaboration of a Kirkenes Declaration II. Janos Herman, the EU Ambassador to Norway added that the Barents Cooperation is “very important for the EU”, and especially within specific fields of activities.
The EU representatives also confirmed that the location of the EU Arctic Information Center, a new entity which Finnish authorities strongly want to be established in Rovaniemi, northern Finland, will be announced before year’s end.