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News, 5/16/2017
Exploring Common Solutions - Finnish Chairmanship - Arctic Council

Kim Kuivalainen, Policy Officer specialising in Arctic matters in the EU

Kim Kuivalainen works at the European External Action Service, EEAS. He is also involved in organising the first EU Arctic Stakeholder Forum in Oulu in June.

We met Kim and asked him about his work, the EU’s Arctic policy and the objectives of the Arctic Stakeholder Forum in Oulu.

Kim Kuivalainen
Before moving to the EEAS, Kuivalainen was responsible for entry matters in the Foreign Ministry. In the Ministry, he has also handled matters related to regional cooperation and he was also involved in the preparation of Finland's first Arctic Strategy in 2010.

What is your job description at the EEAS?

My duties include the Northern Dimension, Arctic Cooperation, and Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region.

In practice, this work is conducted through concrete projects funded by the European Union and in the northern regional councils, such as the Arctic Council, Barents Euro-Arctic Council and Council of the Baltic Sea States and different groups of experts.

Why and how does the European Union want to be active in Arctic matters?

The challenges encountered in the Arctic and solutions to them require joint regional and international actions. It is in the interests of the EU that the Arctic remains a region where constructive international cooperation is conducted and that solutions to complicated Arctic questions are resolved together.

The European Union holds a lead position in science, which means that it should be prepared to expand its participation in large-scale scientific cooperation.

The Union participates in international discussion on matters with a direct influence on the Arctic region through the UN and its agreements, specialised agencies and programmes as well as by participating in the work of the northern regional councils.

Considering the importance of the Arctic region and the ongoing major changes there it is important that the EU continues its cooperation with the region and its external partners.   This involves decisions on common positions and exploring solutions to such questions as climate change and scientific research matters.

Environmental protection, peaceful cooperation and dispute settlement, respect for international law, and sustainable use of natural resources of the seas are other significant matters that need to be safeguarded.

How will Finland’s forthcoming Arctic Chairmanship show in the EU?

Finland establishes its own priorities for the Arctic Council Chairmanship. However, it is important from the Union’s perspective that the matters pursued by each Arctic chairmanship also support the EU goals in the Arctic region.

The key priorities of Finland’s Arctic Council Chairmanship, environmental protection, connectivity, meteorological cooperation and education, are well in line with the Joint Communication on an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic, which was issued by the EU on 27 April 2016.

Finland’s forthcoming Chairmanship makes it possible for us to highlight Arctic issues at the EU level and to address the key questions presented in the Joint Communication in the work of the Arctic Council.

Finland’s Chairmanship also enables increasing exchange of information and closer contacts with the European Commission and EEAS officials working on Arctic matters. This work has actually already started.

Arctic stakeholders meet in Oulu

The European Commission together with the European External Action Service and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland will co-host a high-level event "A sustainable Arctic – innovative approaches” in Oulu on 15–16 June.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella will discuss ways to deepen cooperation in the Arctic region with local, regional and national authorities and with representatives of the Indigenous Peoples.

Why an Arctic Stakeholder Forum in Oulu

The European Commission and the European External Action Service consider that it is important to engage in close cooperation with national, regional and local authorities in Europe’s Arctic region. The Commission therefore intends to establish an Arctic Stakeholder Forum, which seeks to intensify cooperation and coordination between the European Union’s different funding programmes.

The idea is that this forum would be established for a fixed term and that it would gather representatives of the EU institutions, Member States and regional and local authorities to jointly determine the most important investment and research priorities for EU funding.

The high-level event aims to strengthen cooperation and networking between the stakeholder groups as well as to improve international project planning and knowledge of sources of funding.

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