Although the EU is seeking permanent observer status at the Arctic Council, the EU Commission decided not to send Commissioners in any official capacity to this year's Ministerial meeting. Canada is opposing EU observer status in part because of a ban on imported seal products expected to be passed by the European Parliament next week. The Commission's Communication on the EU and the Arctic Region, COM(2008) 763 final, published in November 2008, generated criticism from some arctic states, one unattributed source querying how Europeans would react were, say, Canada to issue a policy statement on the Mediterranean.
Other voices have recognized Europe's interest in the Arctic not only by virtue of the fact, as the Communication states, that "three EU member states Denmark (Greenland), Finland and Sweden — have territories in the Arctic [and t]wo other Arctic states — Iceland and Norway — are members of the European Economic Area." One such voice is Jessica Shadian who, writing in Canada's Policy Options, and elsewhere, acknowledges Europe's interests in the Arctic yet concludes that the "ultimate authorities" over the future course of the Arctic must be "the Arctic nations and the Arctic’s indigenous peoples."
Actions taken at the Tromsø meeting included adoption of the long-awaited Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment.