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The European Union and the Geopolitics of the Arctic

Andreas Raspotnik, Senior Research Fellow, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway and Senior Fellow, The Arctic Institute, US
The Arctic is a region that has seen exponential growth as a space of geopolitical interest over the past decade. This insightful book is the first to analyse the European Union’s Arctic policy endeavours of the early 21st Century from a critical geopolitical perspective.
Extent: c 272 pp
Hardback Price: $130.00 Web: $117.00
Publication Date: January 2018
ISBN: 978 1 78811 208 6
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The Arctic is a region that has seen exponential growth as a space of geopolitical interest over the past decade. This insightful book is the first to analyse the European Union’s Arctic policy endeavours of the early 21st Century from a critical geopolitical perspective.

Exploring the EU’s decade-long undertaking to construct legitimacy in the Arctic between 2008 and 2017, Andreas Raspotnik investigates whether the EU can figure prominently in the Arctic region as an international actor. This book presents the EU’s interest in the Arctic as a fascinating test case for how the EU aims to assert its policies and values in a neighbouring region.

This contemporary and intriguing book will be an invaluable resource for scholars and students of international relations, European studies, geography, and Arctic studies, as well as those on courses relating to international organisations and global/regional politics. It will also appeal to the broader public with an interest in the challenges and opportunities of the Arctic region.



‘Andreas Raspotnik’s book is a well-written history of the European Union’s struggle for recognition in the Arctic; a struggle underpinned by attempts to define what the Circumpolar North means for the EU. Raspotnik adopts the lens of critical geopolitics, which proves very productive in terms of capturing the character of the EU-Arctic nexus. The Union is revealed as a reluctant geopolitical actor, as inherent EU drive to be present in a neighboring region interplays with the lack of genuine interest.’
– Timo Koivurova, University of Lapland, Finland

‘In spite of an interpretation that the European Union is ‘no geopolitical actor’ from the critical approach, the Union clearly impacts (Arctic) geopolitics in the fields of climate and environmental policies, fisheries and science, and benefits from the high geopolitical stability of the Arctic. This book is an informative study and in-depth analysis on European geopolitical agency in a distinct spatiotemporal context, the early-21st century’s Arctic, and the EU’s process to (re)construct European legitimacy there. Next step is to analyze, if the EU tries to influence the discourse on how to use (govern) the land and waters, as well as resources, of the Arctic.’
– Lassi Heininen, University of Lapland, Finland

‘Many recent books about international relations in the Arctic pretend to be about geopolitics – this one actually is. The book is well-researched, and Raspotnik provides a refreshing take on how the Arctic appeared on the European Union’s “neighbourhood radar".’
– Geir Hønneland, Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway

‘In his book, The European Union and the Geopolitics of the Arctic, Andreas Raspotnik skilfully excavates and interrogates the European Union’s Arctic policies and strategies. The EU multi-faceted relationship with the High North is teased out – it cares about climate change, sustainability, governance, transport and economic opportunity, indigenous peoples and their rights as well as animal welfare. Love it or loath it, the EU’s impact in the Arctic matters and this book explains how, why and where.’
– Klaus Dodds, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK and co-author of The Scramble for the Poles (Polity 2016)

‘Andreas Raspotnik has provided a clear-eyed assessment of the successes and failures of EU policy with regards to the Arctic. In doing so, he has established himself as one of the most exciting young scholars in both EU and Arctic studies.’
– Michael Byers, University of British Columbia, Canada and author of International Law and the Arctic

Contents: PREFACE PART I INTRODUCTION 1. The Geopolitics of an Arctic Meltdown and the Question of EUropean Arctic Space PART II GEOPOLITICS 2. The Thought Experiment Referred to as Geopolitics PART III THE ARCTIC 3. Arctic Geopolitics and the Regional Zeitgeist of the Twenty-First Century PART IV THE EUROPEAN UNION 4. EUropean Dimensions of Arctic Presence 5. An Action in the Making: The EU’s Arctic Policy-Making Process 6. The EU’s Arctic Space-Making Practices PART V CONCLUSION 7. A European Geopolitical Subject in the Arctic? REFERENCES APPENDICES Index