This page was archived on October 2020.


Cooperation on regional and global issues

23 - Relations with Russia on the Arctic

Grade: B+
Unity 4/5
Resources 3/5
Strategy 4/5
Impact 3/5
Total 14/20
Scorecard 2015: B- (12/20)
Scorecard 2014: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2013: B (13/20)

The EU’s hope to gain observer status in the Arctic Council was frustrated once again. Tensions with Russia have some impact on relations in the Arctic

For many years, the EU has aimed to gain observer status in the Arctic Council – an intergovernmental forum on the Arctic region. Some of its member states – France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the UK – have obtained observer status, while Sweden, Finland, and Denmark are members.

However, the EU’s bid has been rejected several times. In 2013, it was blocked by Canada because of the EU’s ban on trade in commercial seal products. The dispute with Canada was resolved in late 2014, and the EU hoped to get observer status at the April 2015 summit. However, the summit decided to suspend accepting new members for the time being.

Russia’s military sabre-rattling has been visible in the Arctic: a major “snap exercise” was called at short notice in March 2015; another major drill took place in August.

The EU’s economic sanctions towards Russia affect developments in the Arctic. The so-called sectoral sanctions, imposed against entire Russian economic sectors since July 2014, include prohibitions on EU companies engaging in the direct or indirect sale, supply, transfer, or export of certain technologies for deep-water oil exploration and production, Arctic oil exploration and production, or shale oil projects. This affects major Russian companies, but also their European partners and stakeholders.