Ongoing developments in the Arctic have attracted the attention of the five Arctic coastal states; Canada, the U.S., Russia, Denmark and Norway. However, it has also attracted the attention of large external stakeholders, such as China, South Korea, Japan, NATO and the EU. Whereas a considerable amount of research has been conducted on the relations between the coastal states, little has yet been written about interested external actors. Considering that these stakeholders might attempt to influence the future of the region, there is a need for knowledge about their Arctic ambitions.
The EU is an interested stakeholder that considers Arctic issues important enough to desire a standalone and coherent Arctic policy. Studying the policy process towards such a policy might reveal information about European foreign policy-making, while also providing fundamental knowledge about the EU as an actor in the north. This thesis therefore studies challenges and opportunities that the EU is facing in developing a coherent policy. It firstly locates Arctic issues within the European policy process before studying intra and inter institutional relations between the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. Underpinning the study is an eclectic analytical framework consisting of Foreign Policy Analysis, Multi-level Governance and the concept of coherence in foreign policy. Recognizing the inherent tension between supranationalism and intergovernmentalism in EU policy-making, preliminary findings suggest that the EU will have to address issues of member state positions. Furthermore, there are indications suggesting different perceptions and levels of ambitions among the institutions.