• Norway's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Ashton in far north to reach EU policy on Arctic

AFP · 9 Mar 2012, 13:45

Published: 09 Mar 2012 13:26 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Mar 2012 13:45 GMT+01:00

The polar region has seen ice shields retreat because of global climate change, which is ironically promising to open the remote area up to oil and gas exploration as well as shipping.

"The Union has begun to think about its policies towards the Arctic," Ashton said after arriving at the Svalbard islands late on Wednesday.

"We have some discussions already but I wanted to see for myself, and there is nothing better than going somewhere as extraordinary as Svalbard."

Travelling around the islands, which cover an area twice the size of Belgium, about 1,000 kilometres from the pole, Ashton visited a glacier and spoke with international researchers in a remote village.

The EU top diplomat said she was eager for the 27-member bloc to receive permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, an eight-country forum.

"We want to become an observer... not just because some of our member states are so connected to it, but because all of the European Union has something to offer, when you think about some of the environmental issues," she said during an earlier stop in Kiruna in the far north of Sweden.

To allow the EU as an observer, all the eight members of the council must agree, but according to Norwegian media, two members, Canada and Russia, are reluctant to go along with the move.

The other members are Denmark (with Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

In addition to climate change, especially visible in the region where the icecap has been melting, Ashton also discussed energy issues.

The Arctic is rich in mineral resources, and its seabed is thought to hold 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of gas resources yet to be found, according to the US Geological Survey.

"Trade routes as well are a very interesting issue for the countries of this region but also for world trade, because the potential of being able to use the routes of the Arctic is enormous," Ashton said.

Story continues below…

The region has taken on an increasing strategic importance with the opening up of a new shipping route as the Arctic icecap melts.

Compared with traditional routes through the Suez Canal or the Cape of Good Hope, the Northeast Passage, north of Russia, would considerably shorten the voyage between Europe and Asia.

The coveted riches have stoked tensions between bordering countries, while environmentalists worry increased shipping and oil and gas exploration could lead to spills that would be catastrophic for the delicate ecosystem.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Norway PM hunts Pokémon in Slovakia
Solberg, shown here at the Arendal political forum earlier this month, said she recently got hooked on Pokémon Go. Photo:Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix

An avid gamer, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg took a break from her official duties in Bratislava this week to hunt for Pokemon monsters in the Slovak capital's old town.

Western Norway braces for extremely heavy rains
Heavy rains in Bergen earlier this month. Photo: Marit Hommedal / NTB scanpix

Residents requested to stay off the roads.

Norwegians conquer England in record time
(L-R) Øystein Garfos, Øystein Djupvik, Andreas Munkelien and Gunnar Garfors

Another wacky record in the books for Norway's extreme travellers.

Norway asylum centres report increase in teen prostitution
File photo of an asylum centre in Råde. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

Reports increased fivefold between 2014 and 2015 and officials fear there are more unreported cases.

New signs of life in the Norwegian economy
Finance Norway CEO Idar Kreuetzer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad / NTB scanpix

Positive signals in Finance Norway’s quarterly expectations survey are being interpreted as yet another sign that the Norwegian economy is over the hump.

Car fires in Oslo as burnings reported across Scandinavia
There is no immediate indication that the Oslo car fires are connected to the more than 70 car fires in Malmö, pictured here. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT/Scanpix

No indication that the two car fires in the Norwegian capital are connected to a series of suspected arson attacks in Sweden and Denmark.

Five things to know about the Philippine peace talks in Oslo
Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende greets participants as the peace talks get underway in Oslo on Monday. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

Can the talks in Oslo put an end to a nearly 50-year rebellion?

Norway talks spur hopes for Philippine peace deal
(L-R) Jose Maria Sison (NDFP), Elisabeth Slåttum, FM Børge Brende, Jesus Dureza (GPH) and Luis Jalandori begin peace talks. Photo: Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix

Norway-mediated talks aim to end one of Asia's longest insurgencies.

Scenes for next Star Wars film could be filmed in Norway
Could Preikestolen be the setting for an epic battle in the next Star Wars film? Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

May the Force be with us.

15 hurt as Oslo concert venue ceiling collapses
Photo: Fredrik Varfjell / NTB scanpix

"Total chaos" at concert attended by Norwegian Business School students.

Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Frozen effect bringing 'too many tourists' to Norway
Travel
Frozen effect bringing 'too many tourists' to Norway
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Norway's angel princess divorces novelist husband
Norway's angel princess divorces novelist husband
Norwegian motorist kills 19 reindeer in bloody collision
National
Norwegian motorist kills 19 reindeer in bloody collision
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
'Tick here please': Changing gender in Norway gets easier
Lifestyle
'Tick here please': Changing gender in Norway gets easier
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Danish scientist: Mysterious 'blue blob' caused by weather
National
Danish scientist: Mysterious 'blue blob' caused by weather
Norwegian school permits burkini in swimming classes
Education
Norwegian school permits burkini in swimming classes
Norway's ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
National
Norway makes ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
International
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars
National
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars – yet
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
National
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
National
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Record number of kids mark Norway's National Day
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
Travel
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
National
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Norway violated mass murderer's human rights: court
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
Lifestyle
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
2,015
jobs available