European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki delivered a statement to an arctic frontiers conference in Tromso, Norway.
Warmer temperatures are leaving parts of the arctic ice-free for longer periods of the year. That has exposed vast areas thought to hold oil and natural gas reserves and is opening shipping lanes north of Russia.
Damanaki said changes in the arctic environment were spilling over to climate issues for EU leaders.
"The rising sea levels, the changing weather, there are complex variables that need to be taken into account by all of us together if we are to devise good adaptation strategies," she said in prepared remarks.
Measured sea ice last year was its lowest since record-keeping began. Last year was also one of the warmest years on record.
"Reports such as these can only strengthen the European Commission's resolve towards a global reduction of greenhouse gases by all major emitters," Damanaki said.
Conference planners in Norway changed the meeting's schedule because of the hostage crisis in Algeria. Norwegian state and energy officials canceled appearances as energy company Statoil handles its response.