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The Arctic is a key region for scientific research. A significant portion of the Arctic area belongs to European countries and therefore have a natural and very close connection to the European scientific community. Obviously, the Arctic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Russia and Sweden) have stronger national strategic interest in conducting scientific activity in the Arctic regions. In some of these countries the scientific activity is naturally oriented to the polar environment and includes the management of Scientific Stations and observatories; these are integrated into transnational networks (e.g. INTERACT, SIOS).
In 1996, Foreign Ministers of those Arctic states agreed to form the Arctic Council with a mandate to undertake a broad programme to include all dimensions of sustainable development. The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum; the members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and United States of America. Europe has a great regional interest for the Arctic since it is a crucial area for climate changes studies as well as environmental, social, and industrial policies.
Map of Arctic stations
The total number of the international Antarctic stations is 79 (source: Comnap). 21 of these are European stations. The European stations are spread all over the Antarctic and in most cases are provided of landing facilities which might allow aerial connections. The European polar infrastructures also include over 30 polar vessels many of which are or could be used in Antarctica.
The European Polar Board is working to facilitate the common appropriate use of these resources, both for improving scientific synergies and for optimizing the cost of carrying out research in Antarctica, which is several times higher than in the Arctic due to the larger scale of infrastructural and logistical support required.