Guidelines for developing national maritime policies
Seas and coastal regions are essential for the well-being and prosperity of Europe. However, pressure placed on marine areas has increased considerably due to an increased use of seas and oceans combined with climate change. To respond to the number of challenges faced by European maritime areas, a new approach to governance, one which is integrated and cross-cutting is crucial. The guidelines proposed by the Commission aim to guide the activities of public and private stakeholders in the development of their respective national maritime policies.
Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 26 June 2008 on “Guidelines for an Integrated Approach to Maritime Policy: Towards best practice in integrated maritime governance and stakeholder consultation” [COM(2008) 395 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The European Union (EU) has proposed guidelines for the development of an integrated maritime policy, which constitutes one of the Commission’s strategic objectives for the period 2005-2009. This new approach at the European level is at the heart of the EU’s integrated maritime policy proposed by the Commission in October 2007. The guidelines set out the policy’s overarching vision and encompass the actions of Member States and maritime stakeholders towards an integrated approach to maritime affairs at the national level.
Member States are encouraged to establish their own integrated maritime policies in close collaboration with their national and regional maritime stakeholders. Due to the many interactions between different maritime policies, efficient coordination of every action developed by government organisations will be required. To achieve this it is advised that Member States improve and facilitate cooperation at all levels of maritime governance, including at the European level.
Member States should consider creating internal coordinating structures within their government frameworks (government departments, national parliaments, etc.). Such a structure could provide a government framework to facilitate decision-making at the national level. A post responsible for the coordination of maritime affairs could be created. The role would consist specifically of structuring the dialogue between the different sectoral interests.
Coastal regions and other local decision-makers should be allowed to play a role in the development of integrated maritime policies, taking into account their experience of Integrated Coastal Zone Management and regulating the spatial deployment of their activities.
All maritime stakeholders should participate in integrated maritime policy-making. These include economic partners (industries and services), social partners, NGOs, universities and research institutions. Their participation at the national, regional and local levels is recommended. Member States should authorise the participation of these stakeholders in the governance of maritime affairs whilst ensuring the transparency of the decision-making process.
It is essential to develop cross-border coordination at regional sea basin level, to ensure the dissemination of good practices and to develop improved cooperation between Member States in certain areas, such as those relating to the protection of the marine environment, to the safety, security, and surveillance of Europe’s maritime areas and to marine and maritime research. To this end, the European Commission is developing regional strategies and is currently preparing strategies for the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean.
The Commission invites Member States to share information on the steps they are taking towards integrated maritime governance. The Commission shall publish the collated information on the Internet in table form. The information could be used as a model for sharing good practice.
The Commission will report on progress towards an integrated approach to maritime affairs by the end of 2009, as stated in the Blue Paper on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU.
These guidelines form a central part of the Communication on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (Blue Paper) adopted by the Commission in October 2007 and approved by the European Council in December 2007.
These guidelines also form part of the United Nations’ 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002.