Danish Arctic Policy: 12 Month Outlook


    Danish SOF Dog Sled unit, Sirius on patrol in Greenland


    Denmark, whilst aiming for peace, sees significant opportunity within the Arctic region. As such, a more assertive Danish Arctic policy has been adopted, and this is likely to continue in the next 12 months. This policy involves increased work with Greenland and the Faroe islands, as well as work to counteract the rising powers of China and Russia. Additional, focus on sovereign claims will be an integral component of their policy moving forward.

    Key Judgement 1

    The updated Danish Arctic Policy, due to be published in 2021, is highly likely to reaffirm Danish sovereign claims over areas of the arctic.

    • The current 10-year Danish Arctic Policy (2011-2020) expired at the end of 2020. Works on the updated policy have been extended due to the COVID pandemic and elections in Greenland.

    • Denmark (“the Kingdom of Denmark” – which comprises of Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands) claimed to own a larger portion of the Arctic Circle in 2014 – including areas formerly claimed by Canada and Russia, as well as the North Pole.

    • It is highly likely that in the updated 10-year Danish Arctic Policy, these new sovereign claims will be reaffirmed.
    Danish Arctic Policy

    Key Judgement 2

    Greenland and the Faroe Islands are likely to take a more active role over Denmark within the Arctic Council in the next 12 months.

    • Analysis suggests this a strategic maneuver by Denmark as Greenland and the Faroe Islands are geographically located within the Arctic Circle.

    • Denmark has little direct claim to the Arctic; most of the Kingdom of Denmark’s claim comes from Greenland, which is an autonomous region.

    • As of 2021, Denmark is increasingly engaging in dialogue with Greenland and the Faroe Islands regarding Danish Arctic Policy.

    • The Arctic Circle is of significant political and cultural significance to Greenland, which homes many indigenous people such as Greenland Inuit. Therefore, Denmark allowing Greenland a more active role is a politically motivated action to show its allegiance to indigenous people of the Arctic, and Greenland.

    • Therefore, it is likely that Denmark will allow Greenland and the Faroe Islands an active role within Danish Arctic Policy. This is to bolster the kingdom’s sovereign claims.
    Danish Arctic Policy

    Key Judgement 3

    Overall, Denmark is likely to pursue a more aggressive Arctic Policy over the next 12 months, due to rising tensions within the region.

    • In early 2021, Denmark signed an agreement to strengthen defense capabilities in the arctic region. The agreement will increase defense and monitoring capabilities by 1.5 billion DKK by 2023. Provisions included in the agreement:
      • Air and satellite surveillance provisions.
      • Tactical long-range drones.
      • Funding of military exercises and training.
      • Intelligence analysis spending.

    • Danish Foreign Ministers repeatedly assert that Denmark aims for a peace in the region. However, they also express concern for the Russian and Chinese engagement in the area.

    • Therefore, it is likely that assertive strategies, such as increased military presence and assertiveness of Danish sovereignty of the Arctic Circle within the Arctic Council, will be used to deter foreign military action in the area.
    Danish Arctic Policy
    Sirius Dog Patrol in Greenland

    Intelligence cut-off date: 13th of December, 2021

    Abbi Clark
    Abbi Clark
    Abbi is a Grey Dynamics's Intel Manager and a graduate in Chinese Studies from the University of Nottingham with an MA in Intelligence & Security Studies at Brunel University London.

    Table of contents


    Get the weekly email from Grey Dynamics that makes reading intel articles and reports actually enjoyable. Join our mailing list to stay in the loop for free!

    Related contents