Last wednesday the Arctic Council met in Kiruna, Sweden on a ministerial meeting. The most important decision made was to include six new nations as permanent Observer States into the Arctic Council, namely: China, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore as new . The decision on the EU, trying to become a permanent observer since 2009, was adjourned until “the Council ministers are agreed by consensus”, but “the EU may observe Council proceedings until such time”.
The EU first mentions its ambition for becoming a permanent observer in the Arctic Council in the first ever paper of the European Union on Arctic matters in 2008. But so far the application was rejected. This time mainly Canada objected to an EU ban on imported seal products. In a short press release EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki welcomed the decision of the Arctic Council and stated that “[f]urther to previous exchanges with the Canadian authorities the EU will now work expeditiously with them to address the outstanding issue of their concern.”
For the next two years Canada will chair the Arctic Council, the next ministerial meeting will take place in 2015.
Here you can read the “KIRUNA DECLARATION On the occasion of the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council”