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Breaking the ice

Despite having its bid to be a permanent observer on the Arctic Council deferred, the EU looks set to increase its research activity in the region. Rebecca Hill looks at why it wants to up the ante.

European interest in Arctic affairs has steadily increased in recent years and the EU is now one of the biggest spenders on Arctic-related research. In the past seven years the European Commission spent more than €150 million in the region, funding 26 research projects through Framework 7. This was up from €90m in the previous Framework programme, and is expected to increase again under Horizon 2020.

In May, the eight members of the Arctic Council—Canada, Denmark (including the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Iceland, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States—deferred the EU’s application to be a permanent observer on the forum. And despite assurances that progress is being made, the delay, caused by Canada’s opposition to the EU’s ban on importing seal fur, does not look likely to be over soon. The council’s spokesman for foreign affairs says Canada is consulting parties involved in the seal industry, after which it will propose a date to begin talks with the EU.

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