The European Union is seeking a seat on the Arctic Council as the political wrangling over control of the region gathers pace.
The Special Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, met with the Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, on 6th & 7th March 2012. Her visit to Norrland included a meal at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi and a visit to the EKAB mine in Kiruna.
In a speech, Ashton mentioned a visit to the indigenous Saami people of Northern Finland and issues of climate change in the area, whilst highlighting the importance of the Arctic region to the European economy and trade routes:
“For Sweden this is an area that is extremely important economically. Talking with the mining industry you get the real sense that this is an industry that is growing and developing and has real potential to expand in the future. That is important for the economy of Sweden but also of course for the European economy, exporting as they do to Europe and way beyond. It is also important in the context of thinking about how this area could develop and the opportunities it provides for employment and so on. This is all very interesting to the EU with its strategy of growth for the next few years.”
Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Störe, also joined Bildt and Ashton to continue discussions over the future of the Arctic.