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Arctic Council

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th June 2011.

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Photo of Lord Jay of Ewelme Lord Jay of Ewelme Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the results of the recent Arctic Council ministerial meeting.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

The UK, in its capacity as a state observer, attended the Arctic Council's biennial ministerial meeting that took place in Nuuk, Greenland on 12 May 2011 with representation from all eight Arctic states.

The key outcomes from the meeting included Arctic Ministers agreeing structural changes to the council, including a permanent secretariat (to be based in Tromso, Norway), an agreed budget, new communication/outreach arrangements and an intention to enhance the council's agenda. The Arctic Ministers also signed a search and rescue agreement which is intended to improve co-ordination between the Arctic states, and is the first legally-binding agreement negotiated by the council, and which provides the council with another approach to doing business in the future.

Arctic Ministers also agreed a set of criteria for future applications for observers at the Arctic Council. This does not currently affect the UK's confirmed status as a state observer to the council, but the criteria will now be applied to new states seeking such status, including the outstanding applications from China, European Community, Italy, Japan and Korea.

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