Futurology blog: what’s the next trend that’ll disrupt our world, financially, socially or just pointlessly?

Monday, 10 November 2008

Iceland and Scapa Flow - two strategic EU imperatives

The British Navy hasn’t always been based in Portsmouth. Back when Spain was the enemy, it was based on the south-western tip of the country, in Plymouth. Then when France became the No.1 enemy, it was moved to Portsmouth.

Well, it’s time to move again. Northwards. Sure, the nuclear submarines are based in Scotland, but that’s not really enough anymore.

Russia will soon have a rash of grey-coloured craft all over the Arctic Circle to reinforce its ambitious land and seabed claims. The resources available, and the trade routes, are simply too attractive to ignore.

Canada will inevitably be drawn into some form of stand-off. And who else? Norway and Japan definitely. But what will the EU do to assert itself in the Arctic Circle? Denmark and Sweden aren’t all that close to the action. (Denmark’s Greenland would be extremely expensive to get up to speed on the level required, but is certainly an option.)

And what about Iceland? The country is certainly strategically vital in any northern geopolitics, but as it’s just gone bankrupt, it’s essentially up for takeover.

Basically, the EU needs to make them a deal very fast, before Russia steams in. Let’s face it, there a handful of Russians could bail them out in the blink of an eye. Considering what’s to gain, it’s only a matter of time.

Would the Icelanders be able to refuse the right offer – or offers? One company could buy their ports, others could install their merchant and fishing fleets, followed inevitably by the Russian Navy to protect their “legitimate” interests.

Therefore, two things need to happen. One, the EU needs to drag in Iceland and restore their national pride. (The UK hasn’t exactly helped here, thanks Mr Brown.)

Two, the British Navy needs to establish a major naval base as far north as it can – Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. It would not only help to protect British (and EU) interests, it would also make Iceland a lot less isolated. Hopefully, the plans are already on a table somewhere.

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