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Brussels, 13 September 2010

Statement by Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik following the adoption of the Council decision to ratify the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean

"I welcome the adoption today of the decision to ratify the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean. This is good news for a region under extreme pressure. Urban development is exacerbating problems of coastal erosion and flooding of low-lying coastlines along the Mediterranean. This growing urbanisation is resulting in the gradual loss of natural areas and biodiversity as well as increasing pressure on water resources. The Mediterranean basin already counts as one of the areas most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

This is why the Commission was happy to propose EU ratification of the Protocol. The adoption of the Council's decision today will mean these problems can now be tackled more effectively. Comprehensive strategies will be set up to protect coastal areas and there will be strict conditions for certain coastal uses. This includes stricter control of developments in coastal areas, the establishment of a zone where new building will not be allowed and an obligation to take risk to the environment into account in urban planning. We can also look forward to greater cooperation, particularly between neighbouring Mediterranean coastal countries in areas such as environmental impact assessment, information gathering and exchange and research.

Today we have taken a small but significant step in a longer process to reverse coastal degradation and significantly reduce the loss of coastal ecosystems. This sends a strong signal of commitment from the EU to the protection and sustainable management of the Mediterranean coast."

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