The Spell of the Arctic: The EU as Geopolitical Actor

Lecture | September 21 | 12-1 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Andreas Raspotnik, Nord University Business School in Bodø (Norway)

 Institute of European Studies

The Arctic is melting. And it is melting fast. In times of starving polar bears going viral, the Arctic has become the globe’s ‘climate change’ canary in a coal mine. After some rather silent years around the turn of the millennium, the region prominently re-hit global headlines a decade ago. An area that may provide for economic opportunities in the decades to come but currently rather holds severe global climate and environmental challenges. It was also the time when the region appeared on the European Union’s ‘neighbourhood radar’ with its various institutional bodies attempting to formulate a coherent policy approach for its ‘northern neighbourhood’. The ultimate aim was rather simple: to construct legitimacy and credibility in order to be recognised as distinct Arctic actor.

However, the EU’s Arctic endeavour has not necessarily been crowned with resounding success as the Union’s mixed institutional signals over the past decade have led to many sceptical depictions of the EU’s role in the Arctic. This lecture will look back on 10 years of EU Arctic policymaking. It will highlight the various institutional voices and discuss its interpretation. Finally, it will end with two open questions: What does the EU’s Arctic endeavour of the 21st century reveal about the Union’s broader role as an international actor with an evolving geopolitical identity? And can the European Union actually be depicted as a geopolitical actor?

Andreas Raspotnik is a Senior Researcher at the High North Center at Nord University Business School in Bodø (Norway) and a Senior Fellow at The Arctic Institute in Washington, DC (USA). He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo (Norway).

 heike@berkeley.edu, 510-643-4558