The preliminary results from the public consultation show that there was broad participation from the government, science institutions, and EU citizens – Arctic and non-Arctic. In her participation in Arctic Consensus’ dialogue meeting on February 23rd, Elin Mortensen, the Head of Mission at the Mission of the Faroe Islands to the EU, gave an insight into the Faroese perspectives.
At the dialogue meeting, Elin Mortensen made clear that from the Faroese side they welcome the update on the EU Arctic policy and believe that the public consultation and following process is an opportunity to increase the attention on the Arctic region within the EU. Moreover, the process is an opportunity to expand the EU engagement in the Arctic and evaluate the effectivity of the current policy.
In terms of the engagement of the EU, Elin Mortensen emphasized two successful examples; a Horizon2020 funded project where the Swedish Minesto and the Faroese energy supply company SEV entered a collaboration regarding tidal energy – a project that can be a supporting element in the Faroe Island’s conversion to being a 100 percent sustainable energy by 2030. The other example is the partnership between the Faroese bank BankNordik and the European Investment Fund, within which there is a warranty deal that grants BankNordik to issue up to 40 million euro in new loans to innovative SMV’s on the Faroe Islands and Greenland, where the investment fund has a warranty for up to 50% of potential loss.
The Faroese have also contributed with specific inputs for the process that covers areas such as research and innovation, digitalization, youth, education and culture, and green conversion. Moreover, these inputs also put focus on how the EU can contribute by promoting Arctic potential through strong partnerships and bilateral relations with Arctic states and actors. The Faroe Island emphasize, in this context, the Faroese government proposal about the Faroe Islands and the EU working together to create a stronger and more dynamic relation in favor of both sides. They further emphasize that Arctic affairs with relevant priorities, programs, funds, multilateral and bilateral relations, should be streamlined.
In extension of the latter, there is an exciting proposal from the Faroese of a “single-entry portal” within the EU, which covers all Arctic initiatives and activities across EU institutions. This is a proposal that initially was discussed at the Arctic Stakeholder Forum. The Arctic questions are cross-institutional and expand over different Directorate-Generals in the EU, making it a possibly complicated process for the many different small actors to navigate in. For the citizen, company, researcher or actor, it is not pivotal which Directorate-General has the responsibility. It is important, however, for the implementation of the EU Arctic policy that the actors who wish to contribute have an overview of the possibilities that exist. An EU Arctic portal would, for instance, have an overview of the calls in terms of funding, project opportunities, and an overall picture of the current projects and priorities across the EU institutions. In relation to this, Elin Mortensen also highlighted at the dialogue meeting the importance of focusing on and understanding that the Arctic is characterized by sparsely populated areas and relatively small administrative units. It is therefore essential to focus on developing projects and opportunities in a way so that actors in the Arctic have a real chance to participate and thus facilitate participation from the Arctic region.
A successful EU Arctic policy lies in a focused and structured implementation, and it is clear that the Faroe Islands have concrete inputs about how to work towards this goal in the future. If you wish to read the Faroese perspectives regarding the update of the EU Arctic policy, you can find it via this link.