Climate change is a key factor shaping the contours of international security and policy-making. This is particularly the case in the Arctic region where global warming is unlocking a complicated web of challenges and opportunities. Rising temperatures are facilitating the exploitation of vast oil and natural gas reserves, opening access to fish stocks and particularly new shipping routes, which promise
shorter distances for trade between Europe and East Asia. On the other hand, the melting of the Arctic’s ice cap exacerbates the region’s
environmental fragility, threatens the traditional way of life of the indigenous population, and has serious global environmental, economic, and human security implications.
The increasing geopolitical and geo-economic importance of the region is, together with a confluence of major powers such as the U.S., Russia, and China, risking the emergence of a new ‘great game’. Such a dash for the Arctic could very well lead to an increased militarization of the region. The European Union has a responsibility to increase its influence in the region in order to minimise the risks of an increased conflict potential and environmental degradation. In this context, this Policy Briefing Paper aims to provide a concise background on the Arctic region offering a succinct analysis of the situation and a set of recommendations for the European Union.