Action plan for an integrated maritime policy
In order to protect maritime resources, the European Commission plans to put in place an integrated, horizontal and cross-sector maritime policy, encompassing all aspects of our relationship with the seas and oceans. The management framework, the objectives and the instruments proposed by the Commission are developed in this Communication which is founded on the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 October 2007 on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union [COM(2007) 575 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The creation of an integrated maritime policy requires a precise management framework. The Commission has created a Maritime Policy task force to analyse the interactions between the sectoral policies and coordinate them. It has also requested help from the Agencies of the European Union (EU) with maritime-related functions to draw up new policies. In addition, the development of new maritime policies involves consultation of civil society and all stakeholders as well as comprehensive impact assessments.
The prime objective of an integrated maritime policy for the EU is to maximise sustainable use of the oceans and seas while enabling growth of the maritime economy and coastal regions. In order to ensure the competitiveness, safety and security of the sector, the European Commission commits to:
- creating a strategy to alleviate the consequences of climate change in coastal regions;
- enhancing professional qualifications and studies in the maritime field to offer better career prospects in the sector;
- creating a European maritime space without administrative or customs barriers as well as a comprehensive maritime transport strategy for 2008-18 to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of maritime transport in Europe;
- issuing guidelines on the application of environmental legislation relevant to ports and proposing a new ports policy taking account of the multiple roles of ports;
- encouraging the formation of multi-sector clusters and promoting technological innovation in the shipbuilding and energy sector to ensure economic competitiveness without harming the environment;
- supporting international efforts to reduce pollution of the atmosphere and greenhouse gas emissions attributable to ships;
- taking steps against discharges into the sea, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and any other destructive practices.
A second key objective is building a knowledge and innovation base for the maritime policy. Marine science, technology and research enable analysis of the effects of human activity on marine systems and put forward solutions to alleviate environmental degradation and the effects of climate change. The European Commission plans to:
- present a comprehensive European strategy for marine and maritime research;
- improve understanding of maritime affairs for the 7th framework programme;
- support the creation of a European marine science partnership with the aim of establishing dialogue between the scientific community, the industry and policy makers.
An integrated policy also has the objective of delivering a higher quality of life in coastal and outermost regions, reconciled with economic development and environmental sustainability. The Commission therefore aims in particular to:
- encourage coastal tourism;
- prepare a database on Community funding for maritime projects and coastal regions;
- create a Community disaster prevention strategy in these regions;
- develop the maritime potential of outermost regions and islands.
The EU intends, moreover, to promote its leading position in international maritime affairs. An integrated policy enables improved management of maritime affairs and the creation of EU priorities in this field. This is of particular importance given the global character of the problems encountered by the maritime sector. Therefore, the Commission will encourage:
- cooperation in maritime affairs under the European Enlargement Policy, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Northern Dimension and structured dialogue with major partners. The application of international agreements by partners is essential;
- the Member States to ratify and apply the relevant instruments.
The final objective of this integrated policy is raising the visibility of Maritime Europe and improving the image of this sector's activities and professions. To this end, the Commission proposes positive actions and tools such as:
- launch of educational tools (Atlas of the Seas) and instruments to highlight our common maritime heritage;
- celebration of an annual European Maritime Day from 2008.
Three instruments are of particular importance for creating common maritime policies:
- a European network for maritime surveillance to ensure the safe use of the sea and the security of the EU's maritime borders, as these problems are transnational in nature. The Commission particularly encourages cooperation between coastguards and the relevant agencies, and undertakes to improve the interoperability of surveillance systems;
- integrated coastal zone management (land and sea) to enable maritime spatial planning. While it is the Member States who have competence in this field, Europe-wide commitment is essential. The Commission will propose a roadmap in 2008 to facilitate the development of this instrument;
- a complete and accessible source of data and information on natural and human activity on the oceans to facilitate strategic decision-making on maritime policy. Measures will be taken to establish a European Marine Observation and Data Network and to create multi-dimensional mapping of Member States' waters.
The Communication follows on from the consultation launched in the Green paper on a Maritime Policy for the EU, by which the European Council of June asks the Commission to develop an action plan.