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IP/10/1737

Brussels, 17 December 2010

Commission: Europe needs to move forward on Maritime Spatial Planning

Today, the European Commission published a Communication entitled '"Maritime Spatial Planning in the EU – Achievements and future development". This report reviews developments concerning Maritime Spatial Planning since the 2008 Roadmap, including the results of the public consultation process. By bringing sea-related activities in different sectors together within a common planning framework, Maritime Spatial Planning can be used to prevent conflicts, maximise synergies, and ensure the efficient and sustainable use of scarce maritime space. Today's report clearly concludes that action is now needed at EU level to ensure that Maritime Spatial Planning is deployed in the most coherent and effective way possible across sea basins to the benefit of both the development of maritime activities and the protection of the marine environment.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki commented, "Maritime spatial planning is key to promote rational and sustainable use of the sea, balance different interests including the environmental aspects and improve the quality of decisions. To harness Maritime Spatial Planning fully within the EU, we need to start by facilitating cross-border cooperation and encouraging an approach that dovetails with broader initiatives, including the sea-basin approach of the Integrated Maritime Policy. Going forward, the Commission will work closely with the Member States and regions concerned to deliver the best possible framework for European Maritime Spatial Planning while respecting fully the Subsidiary Principle."

The Communication adopted today takes stock of the debate the Commission launched with the Roadmap Communication of 2008. The purpose of the Roadmap, which identified 10 key principles for maritime spatial planning in the EU, was to provide the basis for a common approach to Maritime Spatial Planning across the EU. Today's Communication reports the results of the stakeholder workshops organised as part of the Roadmap consultation process, and reviews concrete and conceptual developments at both national and EU level.

The conclusions clearly point to the need for further action at EU level if Europe is to achieve a coherent framework for Maritime Spatial Planning. While Member States are enthusiastic about the potential for Maritime Spatial Planning, current developments are following different paths and time scales. A more coherent approach, notably within sea-basins, would significantly enhance the potential value of Maritime Spatial Planning for the EU as a whole.

A common approach would enable the efficient and smooth application of Maritime Spatial Planningin cross-border marine areas, which would be beneficial for both the development of maritime activities and the protection of the marine environment. Ensuring that Maritime Spatial Planningis used in all Member States would enhance sustainable growth across the different maritime sectors be they traditional (fishing or maritime transport) or new (marine renewable energies). Maritime Spatial Planning is crucial for legal certainty, predictability and transparency, thus reducing costs for investors and operators, in particular those operating in more than one Member State. Maritime Spatial Planningalso has a vital role to play in supporting the implementation of existing EU legislation, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, as well as possible future developments in the field of Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

To determine the best way forward, the Commission has therefore launched an impact assessment to explore a range of options to promote and develop Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management. The outcome of this work will be presented in 2011.

Maritime spatial planning refers to a process by which maritime space is allocated between multiple and potentially competing uses. It is thus fully cross-sectoral, ensuring the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and guaranteeing the sustainable exploitation of marine resources. Its goal is to make sea use more sustainable, more rational, more transparent and more predictable in line with the main goals of the Integrated Maritime Policy.

For more information, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/spatial_planning_en.html


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