This text examines the Barents region as a political initiative, its historical and institutional architecture and its contributions to economic and environmental management in the North. Attention is paid to the impact of the Barents region on security and on European integration.
Post-Cold War Europe has seen various regional initiatives launched along the former East-West divide. Ties and trade routes pre-dating 1914 are being taken up once again. Somewhat surprisingly, as this book reveals, the Barents Region in the Scandinavian and Russian Arctic is emerging as one of the most dynamic and versatile East-West initiatives in Europe. Its unique, two-pillared institutional structure ensures that state as well as local authorities are drawn into deliberations, as are representatives from the European Commission and the regional Saami organisation. The Barents Region is ripe with riddles and opportunities. It is immensely rich in minerals, petroleum and fishery resources of interest for Europe as a whole. It is also extremely militarised and environmentally vulnerable. It is the apex of the Cold War structures: with over 200 naval nuclear reactors and with more strategic nuclear weapons than anywhere else in the world, its importance extends far beyond the confines of Arctic Europe. To Russia, the Barents Region has become a link to Northern Europe and potentially to the European Union.
To the European Union, it may become an instrument to stabilise its eastern borders in a militarily sensitive area. The Barents Region surveys regional cooperation in Arctic Europe. With contributions from leading Scandinavian and Russian scholars on Northern affairs, this volume examines the Barents Region as a political initiative, its historical and institutional architecture and its contributions to economic and environmental management in the North. Particular attention is paid to the impact of the Barents Region on security in Arctic Europe and its relationship to the wider process of European integration.