Thank you, Federica. I would like to add briefly to the points you made. As the High Representative said, cooperation is key.
My message is a simple one. This Communication is the EU putting a soft footprint in the Arctic snow. For many years we have been invested in the region. But time is becoming urgent. If we are to make progress on Climate Change in the Arctic, if we are to develop sustainable economic activity – cooperation is essential.
The Arctic is being hit by a number of external factors. Greenhouse gas emissions in particular. Already today, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. Carbon emissions from thawing permafrost will accelerate this process. Rising sea levels and changing weather patterns are the result. Fish change their migratory routes. Arctic wildlife and marine ecosystems are put under pressure.
This is why tackling climate change and preserving the environment both on land and in the Arctic Ocean have a prominent role in this Joint Communication.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is drafting a special report on "Climate change, oceans and the cryosphere". This is partly due to EU influence. And it shows that we are touching upon the right issues in this Joint Communication.
But the importance of the Arctic for the EU is also strategic. European companies are developing innovative cold-climate technologies. We are developing farmed fish techniques for the Arctic region and clean energy advances.
This shows our commitment to sustainable development in the region. And it shows a commitment to the 4 million people who live there.
We aim to build on their traditional knowledge. Resources, funding programmes and investment priorities can be better coordinated. We can contribute to a modern economic model which has environmental protection, sustainable development and international cooperation at its heart.
Research and international scientific cooperation in the Arctic are a main tool to achieve the objectives set out in this Joint Communication. I would particularly like to thank Carlos Moedas for the good cooperation on this.
This Communication allows for a more focussed and integrated policy towards the Arctic region and to strengthen our already substantial presence the region.
Tomorrow I will continue the good cooperation when I meet with, respectively, Canadian Minister of Fisheries Hunter Tootoo, Icelandic Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson and Norwegian Minister Per Sandberg.
I hope this illustrates our commitment in the Arctic to cooperation that brings safety, sustainability and prosperity to the Arctic.
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