Arctic Energy in EU Policy: Arbitrary Interest in the Norwegian High North
Keywords: Arctic, High North, Norway, European Union, oil, gas, Northern Dimension, Energy Policy for Europe
AbstractIn challenging times for European energy security, the European Union (EU) is seeking to extend its energy policy powers. At the same time, with its message that the High North represents diversification away from less stable energy regions, Norway is trying to get attention in Brussels. This article inquires into the place of Norway and its Arctic oil and gas in the processes of developing an Energy Policy for Europe and the Northern Dimension Initiative. Central questions to be addressed are whether Norwegian Arctic areas are emerging as a new energy region to rely on for diversified oil and gas imports for the European Union, and whether Norway, as a small state but a major energy exporter with a considerable part of the Barents Sea shelf, is able to take advantage of this position in its diplomatic relations with Brussels. The study shows that Norway has managed to use its Arctic oil and gas to create awareness of the Norwegian High North in Brussels between 2006 and 2008, but these efforts have not resulted in more active political interest on the part of the EU. A combination of institutional confusion in the EU, lack of coherence and clarity in the Norwegian High North initiative, and Norway’s established reputation as an energy supplier place important constraints on the prospects for more concrete political attention from the EU, and thus on Norway’s ability to take advantage of its High North oil and gas in a foreign policy context.