Addressing the ‘Arctic Paradox’: Environmental Policy Integration in the European Union’s Emerging Arctic Policy

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Series Details Volume 2018, Number 3
Publication Date September 2018
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The Arctic has increasingly become the subject of strategic debates, prompting numerous actors – including the European Union (EU) – to develop Arctic strategies. Importantly, these strategies need to address the ‘Arctic paradox’, that is, the tradeoff between pursuing the economic opportunities arising from an increasingly ice-free Arctic and preventing environmental degradation in a region of central importance for the global climate.

This paper investigates how the EU has positioned itself in thisrespect by asking to what extent its emerging Arctic policy has integrated environmental concerns. To do so, it initially conducts a discourse analysis of Arctic strategies of the EU institutions, Arctic and major non-Arctic EU member states. It finds that these three groups each form a ‘discourse coalition’ advocating for strong, weak and moderate environmental policy integration (EPI) in the EU’s Arctic policy respectively. A probe into the Arctic policy practice of typical representatives of these coalitions shows that a multi-level pattern exists which combines an EU-level pro-EPI discourse and action and varying member state-level commitments to EPI.

The paper concludes by arguing that the Arctic policy at the EU level is currently ‘green by omission’− avoiding contentious subjects in the discourse as well as in actions − and discusses the implications of this finding.

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