A helping hand for the Arctic : EU in search for a role in the North

University essay from Umeå universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Climate change is opening opportunities for further extraction of natural resources and business in the Arctic, which is why the region is more desirable to a variety of actors, including the European Union (EU). Even though the EU is not a permanent observer in the Arctic Council, the EU Member States, Sweden and Finland, are. Henceforth, this thesis is an explorative comparative case study with the aim to investigate the EU's role in Arctic affairs, and if the EU's interests overlap and/or challenge the interest of the two EU Member States. It explains this through the theoretical approaches of liberalism (cooperation) and realism (confrontation). The material under investigation is the Arctic policies of the EU, Sweden, and Finland. The Arctic policies are analyzed based on the three priorities of the EU's Arctic policy: (1) International cooperation on Arctic Issues, (2) Climate change and safeguarding the Arctic Environment, and (3) Sustainable development in and around the Arctic by conducting a frame analysis. The findings of the study show that the EU frames itself as a ‘helping hand’ in the Arctic, meanwhile Sweden and Finland do not fully agree with this picture. Concluding that the EU does not show any attempt to challenge its Member States' interests in the Arctic. It also shows all three actors on one side have a very liberal frame for international cooperation, but on the other side have visible elements of a more realistic frame in terms of sustainable development.

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