Member of the European Commission
Responsible for Fisheries and Maritime
Introductory remarks at launch of Integrated
Maritime Policy for the European
Joint press conference with President José Manuel
Brussels, 10 October 2007
- In the strategic Objectives for its five-year term the Commission promised
to launch an Integrated Maritime Policy for Europe oceans and seas.
- We turned to stakeholders and asked them for their thoughts, ideas and
suggestions on this policy.
- Their response in support of an integrated maritime policy was overwhelming.
Indeed, the response of Europe to the Commission's vision for our oceans and
seas strengthened our ambition and our resolution to move forward.
- Stakeholders also told us what else they wanted to see or not to see within
- We have listened and today we are delivering this new policy – which
is an integral part of our commitments towards the Lisbon Agenda and our
Sustainable Development Strategy.
- What we are proposing is a broad, comprehensive and long term approach to
- For the first time in its 50 years, the EU will have a strategic approach to
decision-making in Maritime Affairs. We have an overall plan for Europe's
maritime dimension; we are aiming at changing the way we govern oceans and seas
- How are we going to do this? By changing the whole perspective and embracing
an integrated approach: as all matters relating our oceans and seas are
inter-related they must be developed in a joined-up way. Hence, all sectoral
policies and all sea-related activities are represented in the Commission's
Communication adopted today.
- This demands a coordinated decision-making process with sectoral policies
developed under a broader strategic overall framework.
- It does not mean concentration of powers nor centralisation. It means more
articulation. Better collaboration between decision-makers, between economic
players and all possible stakeholders.
- The change needs to take place at all levels of government, including at the
Member States level. Through this new policy we invite them today to develop
their own national integrated maritime policies.
- At European level, it is clear the transnational character of maritime
affairs that demands a European approach: shipping and traffic corridors cross
the waters of our Member States, oil spills and pollution know no borders in
Europe's waters and illegal activities such as drug trafficking and illegal
immigration are transnational by nature, affecting all of Europe.
- Earlier, we mentioned the successful consultation process
- and as I aid, wee have listened to all stakeholders: the European
Parliament and the Council, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and
Social Committee. I thank them all for their engagement and encouragement.
- But today's package is not only about applying the integrated approach to
the way we work. We also put forward an extensive action plan detailing the work
we need to do in many areas. Let me highlight some of these actions:
- Better regulation of maritime transport, to help create a true barrier-free
European Maritime Transport Space, filling a gap in the internal market when it
comes to Europe's seas and oceans.
- A European Strategy for Marine Research and a commitment to excellence in
scientific research, technology and innovation, to help meet the Lisbon agenda
for jobs and growth, and to exploit the business opportunities of sea-bed
mineral resources, aquaculture, blue biotech and emerging sub-sea
- Understanding of the crucial role of ports in driving economic growth in
Europe and proposing guidelines for the application of environmental legislation
to their development.
- Examine how EU funding can best reinforce sustainable growth - and boost
prosperity both in Europe's coastal regions and in remote and disadvantaged
regions such as the outermost regions.
- Deploying strengths in combating climate change, through research and
innovation and through sophisticated planning for our vulnerable coastlines.
- Fostering more environmentally friendly shipping, reducing pollution and CO2
emissions from ships, promoting ecosystem-based fisheries and eliminating
destructive fishing practices.
- Develop and use new planning tools, data networks and horizontal
co-ordination to support better decision-making for marine spaces and coastal
areas – and pooling of surveillance to ensure international compliance and
law enforcement of the rules in Europe's waters.
- Backing maritime clusters and regional centres of maritime excellence to
raise Europe's competitiveness, particularly among the smaller firms that are
such an important part of Europe's high-tech maritime industries, and to improve
the attractiveness of maritime careers. To this end the Commission adopted a
Communication today on of the conditions applying to seafarers and fishermen
under labour legislation, for which I thank Commissioner Spidla.
- Finally, because our proposal - like Europe's relation with the sea -
extends into emotional considerations too, we envisage raising the visibility of
maritime Europe, boosting public awareness of the value of our maritime economy
and heritage, and improving the image of maritime activities and the seafaring
- The health of Europe's maritime economy and of its oceans and seas are
crucial for Europe's well-being. This package responds to this important truth
and should allow Europe to make the most of its rich maritime resources and