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Brussels, 2 March 2005

Commission to consult on future maritime policy for the Union

The European Commission today announced its decision to launch a consultation process on a future maritime policy for the Union. In a communication presented jointly by President José Manuel Barroso and Commissioner Joe Borg, the Commission sets out the reasons behind this initiative. The communication says that the contribution that the sea makes to our livelihood and well-being is considerable as is the potential for economic growth. The challenge is to ensure that we make the most of this potential in a sustainable manner. An integrated approach would help avoid conflicts and optimise synergies between the various sea-based activities so as to boost their economic potential and safeguard the environment. It would also encourage greater stakeholders’ participation and enable all the parties concerned to consider the sea as a whole as well as understand the implications of each set of activities thereon. A Task Force, made up of Commissioners responsible for sea-related policies and chaired by Commissioner Borg, will prepare a consultation paper on a future maritime policy for the Union. The publication of this document, scheduled for the first half of next year, will launch an extensive consultation exercise as to possible options for a maritime policy for the Union. The Commission will then examine all the contributions and decide what shape and form the new policy should take before preparing proposals in this direction

President Barroso stated: “Europe’s past, present and future is anchored in the oceans and the seas. Only if we take good care of them, the oceans and the seas will be able to care for us and future generations. A maritime policy for the EU can help releasing Europe’s tremendous growth potential, while protecting our marine environment. Through responsible management of our common marine resources, the oceans and the seas can remain a source of wealth and pleasure for everyone in Europe years ahead.”

“A maritime policy would enable us to identify, co-ordinate and implement sea-related measures in the Union in a way that optimises economic and recreational returns from the sea in a more participative and sustainable manner. I very much look forward to working with my colleagues and public and private stakeholders on this exciting project.” Commissioner Joe Borg, responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said.

President Barroso has asked Mr Borg to “steer a new Maritime Policy Task Force with the aim of launching a wide consultation on a future Maritime Policy for the Union”. The Commissioners concerned are Mr Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, Mr Barrot: Transport, Mr Dimas: Environment, Mrs Hübner: Regional Policy, Mr Potocnik: Research and Mr Pieblags: Energy.

Other Commissioners may also be asked to participate when the discussions will relate to subjects linked to their portfolios. In drawing up the consultation paper, expertise will be drawn from a range of policy and technical areas.

The sea is very important to the Union. Twenty Member States have coasts stretching to almost 70,000 km. Almost half of the EU population live less than 50 km from the coast. The EU maritime regions of the 15 Member States already accounted for over 40% of the GNP. Shipbuilding, ports, fisheries and related services industries employ two and a half million people (See attached Fact sheets and Memo/05/72)

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