BRUSSELS, April 18 (UPI) -- The European Union wants to take advantage of energy and shipping opportunities in the arctic but in a way that is environmentally sound, a commissioner said.
Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said the European Union was ready to work with arctic countries as it bids for observer status in the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental panel focused on the region.
"We want to work with our arctic partners and with the private sector to develop environmentally-friendly, low-risk technologies that could be used by the extractive industries and the shipping industry," Fule said at the European Parliament.
A U.S. report says changes in arctic sea ice cover is sparking interest of offshore developers looking at unexplored reserves of oil and natural gas. This has implications in the way in which the government monitors activity in the region.
A reduction in sea ice brought on by warmer temperature trends has opened new shipping lanes as well.
Fule said that, whatever happens in the arctic, interested parties need to keep the environment in mind.
The Arctic Council in May is to consider an observer status application from the European Union, which was rejected in 2009. Some EU members are council members.