Arctic Council keeps EU in the cold

400 delegates made Tromsø to the Arctic Capital when Arctic Council held its 7th Ministerial Meeting there together with Al Gores and Jonas Gahr Støres conference on Melting Ice. Photo: Jesper Hansen /

The Arctic Council will not let the EU get permanent observer status, despite the union’s growing interest in the High North. A dispute with Canada might be what prevents the union from getting into the club, reports the Barents Observer.

The EU has applied to join as a permanent observer to the council. However, the Arctic organization concluded at its meeting in Tromsø last week that it would defer a decision on new applicants until its next gathering in 2011. Both Canada and Norway are irritated about the Union’s ban on all seal product imports.

“Canada doesn’t feel that the European Union, at this stage, has the required sensitivity to be able to acknowledge the Arctic Council, as well as its membership, and so therefore I’m opposed to it,” Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, said, the Financial Times reports.

According to the newspaper, the EU also irritated several members of the council, which includes the US, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden, because it failed to consult them before launching its own Arctic Study late last year, according to several people familiar with the matter.

As BarentsObserver reported last week, the EU decided to send only low level representation to the Tromsø meeting. That comes as a result of the cool response from the Arctic countries.

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