Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

William Dartmouth storms out of debate on Arctic policy

A British MEP stormed out of the European Parliament during a debate on 10 March 2010 on the EU's Arctic policy.

William Dartmouth, from the UK Independence Party, had had his microphone turned off after attacking EU High Representative Baroness Ashton.

She was addressing MEPs following the publication of a European Commission document setting out the EU's policies for issues affecting the Arctic region, including policies on the environment, fisheries and indigenous populations.

Two member states - Sweden and Finland - have territories within the Arctic region, Denmark has its dependency of Greenland, and two other Arctic nations - Iceland and Norway - are members of the European Economic Area.

The European Commission is calling for greater efforts to be undertaken to halt the melting of ice in the region, with Arctic air temperatures increasing twice as much as the global average.

Finnish Socialist MEP Liisa Jaakonsaari said she was worried about increased exploration for oil and gas, which some experts say could be a consequence of melting ice in the region.

A key priority for many MEP was to protect the indigenous people - mainly Sámi (Lapps) who live within the Arctic region.

It's estimated that around a third of the four million people who live north of the Arctic circle belong to the Sámi community, which has its own council crossing national boundaries.

Conflicts have arisen between traditional ways of life and EU laws, for example on the hunting and marketing of seal and whale products.

Disputes have been ongoing between Denmark, Canada and Russia over territorial claims to the region, with a Russian expedition having placed their country's flag on the floor of the Arctic Ocean under the North Pole in 2007.

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