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Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council the European Union and the Arctic Region, COM(2008) 763 final

Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT


The European Union is inextricably linked to the Arctic region (hereafter referred to as the Arctic) by a unique combination of history, geography, economy and scientific achievements. Three Member States - Denmark (Greenland), Finland and Sweden - have territories in the Arctic. Two other Arctic states - Iceland and Norway - are members of the European Economic Area. Canada, Russia and the United States are strategic partners of the EU. European Arctic areas are a priority in the Northern Dimension policy. Beyond areas of national jurisdiction, the Arctic Ocean contains parts pertaining to the high seas and the seabed managed by the International Seabed Authority.
The vast sea and land spaces of the Arctic region are vital and vulnerable components of the Earth's environment and climate system. Arctic air temperatures have been increasing twice as much as the global average. Coverage of sea ice, snow cover and permafrost have been decreasing rapidly, triggering strong feed-back mechanisms that accelerate global warming. Accelerated loss from the Greenland ice sheet would raise sea levels rapidly and considerably.
In spite of harsh conditions, melting of ice and new technologies will gradually increase access to Arctic living and non-living resources as well as to new navigation routes. Although the Arctic remains one of the most pristine areas on Earth, it will be increasingly at risk from the combined effects of climate change and increased human activity.

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Record Number: 9671 / Last updated on: 2008-01-12