Arctic ICE Observatory – Report
Arctic ICE Observatory – Report

Arctic ICE Observatory – Report

Report to The Hague Presidents’ Meeting May 2020:

The EuroDefense Arctic ICE Observatory looks at intentions, capabilities, events and other aspects which may together comprise a future threat.  Its focus is on defence and security implications, many resulting from climate change, but it is not a study of climate change in the Arctic per se.

There is no current intention to generate formal Eurodefense policy recommendations without a specific further mandate from the Council of Presidents.


This Observatory evolved from EWG 25 following the Bucharest Presidents’ Meeting in Bucharest October 2019, and takes as it starting point the presentation at the London 2017 conference, the Feldt paper of August 2018, amongst whose conclusions are “The European Union is still driven by criteria which were right in the past, but not any longer” and the Wise Pens paper of Patrick Hebrard et al.

Its objective is to report on intentions, capabilities and events which might affect the status of the High Arctic, drawing on a variety of public domain sources.

After the Bucharest Conference in 2019 Eurodefense-UK took on the role of Rapporteur, with the considerable help and support of Vice Admiral Lutz Feldt and the Editorial Advisory Board (see below) and enlisted the help of the U K Defence Forum and the Defence Viewpoints blog (  as a public repository of much valuable material produced by the Observatory participants. 

Our principal production has been “2019 in the High Arctic” which has been circulated to ED Presidents and other officers and contacts, it being a fairly detailed timeline of developments in the Arctic region within the parameters of this Observatory. Work on “2020 in the High Arctic” has already commenced.

These timelines shows clearly and frequently that things are moving fast. At the beginning of 2019, the USA seemed to lack interest. By the end, it was generating policies and legal underpinning for much more significant interventions. Russia continues at breakneck speed to return Cold War assets to use, to invest in new equipments, and to flex its muscles in the field to exert control over the emerging strategic space. China quietly but determinedly pushes itself forward. Industry (with national support) presses on with exploitation of resources regardless of protests from environmental lobbyists and indigenous peoples. The EU, with its inevitable preference for soft power and low profile, is in danger of being left behind by “facts on the ground” despite the direct interests of some of its member nations. A number of nations produced policy positions during 2019.

This report is tabled for noting that work is under way, but in the absence of Robin Ashby (for which apologies) a detailed discussion may be inappropriate. The Observatory does however very much welcome input and contributions from all members of the Eurodefense Network. Robin can be reached on


Editorial advisory panel:

  • Vice Admiral Lutz Feldt – Eurodefense-D
  • Vice Admiral Patrick Hebrard – Eurodefense – Fr
  • Vice Admiral Fernando del Pozo – Eurodefense –Es
  • Guy Lindstrom – Eurodefense-Su
  • Dr Tim Reilly – Scott Polar Research Institute – Eurodefense-UK

U K Defence Forum research team:

  • Robin Ashby – Director General (Rapporteur)
  • Joseph E Fallon – Senior Research Associate (USA)
  • With generous access to their published records from ,
  • Help from House of Lords Library Service
  • And thanks for their “Take 5” Arctic news redux to the Arctic Institute

Publications by members of the Observatory can be found at : and are permanently filed at

(tagged Eurodefense-Arctic)

  • ICE1 – Lutz Feldt : Defining the Arctic – Parameters, Institutions and Policies
  • ICE2 – Patrick Hebrard et al : The EU as an Arctic actor
  • ICE3 – Joe Fallon : Indigenous peoples
  • ICE4 – Fernando del Pozo : Navigation in the Arctic
  • ICE5 – Patrick Hebrard : China – a polar power
  • ICE6 – Tim Reilly : EU and the Cockpit of the World – developing a vision
  • ICE7 – 2019 in the High Arctic (U K Defence Forum)
  • ICE8 – Lutz Feldt, Robin Ashby : Russian military bases