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Dr Joe Borg

European Commissioner responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs

Green Paper on Maritime Policy

Fêtes maritimes de Douarnenez
Douarnenez, France, 26 July 2006

Minister Perben, Member of the European Parliament, Chairman of the Region, Chairman of the General Council, Madam Mayor, Mr. Le Boulanger, Mr Claden,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to participate in the inauguration of this "Fête Maritime" in a year which marks its 20th anniversary. I am truly impressed by the magnitude of this event and the exceptional efforts that have been made by its organisers.

I am also happy to have this occasion to present the ideas of the European Commission vis a vis a future Maritime Policy for the European Union. At the invitation of the French Government I had the occasion to do the same in Antibes last month, at an international conference where the southern EU Member States were present. After this Mediterranean-focused event, I am very pleased to come here to Brittany to meet with different players in the maritime world; mariners, promoters of maritime heritage and tourists enjoying the magnificent coastal areas of Brittany.

The Green Paper on a future Maritime Policy for the EU was adopted on 7 June this year. It pursues two main objectives: the development of a more integrated approach to Maritime Policy, and the development of concrete ideas that will add value to existing sectoral maritime policies. The idea is thus not to create completely new policies, but to build on and develop those already in existence.

This Maritime Policy is underpinned by two main aims: to increase growth and competitiveness whilst simultaneously preserving the resource base. In this respect it is built on the two pillars of the Lisbon Strategy and the Thematic Strategy for the Marine Environment.

A Maritime Policy for the EU will address all aspects of EU activity related to the seas: economic (ranging from ship-building and shipping to tourism, fisheries and ports), the environment, science & research, and governance.

Its basic point of departure is the need for an integrated approach in all these activities where each of these sectors is seen as a part of a bigger picture.

The Green Paper places particular emphasis on using instruments of external policy to establish an international level playing field. It encourages the speedy ratification and implementation of international agreements in order to ensure fair competition for economic operators.

It also calls for intensifying co-operation, both on a bilateral basis and in international organisations, with a view to strengthening international law and coherent global governance of the oceans.

Although a European maritime policy needs a general framework, the implementation of the policy will need to consider the realities of Europe’s geographical situation. There will therefore not be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Finally, and of particular interest for this event here in Douarnenez, the Green Paper places emphasis on the maintenance and development of Europe's maritime heritage – the cultural, educational and recreational aspects of our common history of Europe's seas and oceans. I believe that such an approach can help to highlight the importance of maritime activities and to encourage people to choose a career in the maritime sectors. I believe that this event of "Fêtes maritimes" can serve as a prime example for others.

We are now at the beginning of a one-year consultation phase. Contributions are very welcome from organisations, governments, private sector and others. Following the consultation phase, a report will be produced proposing appropriate follow-up. I would invite you all to study the Green Paper and to let us know your thoughts and ideas on a future Maritime Policy for the European Union.

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