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José Manuel Dur ã o Barroso
President of the European Commission
"Thriving on an ocean of opportunities"
European Maritime Day
Rome , 19 May 2009
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are here today to commit ourselves to a sustainable future for the oceans and seas, for the maritime sectors and for our coastal regions. I am delighted that you have come in such great numbers to share this commitment.
Europe is a maritime continent. Half her inhabitants live less than 50km from the sea, like here in Italy for instance, and the maritime area under our Member States' jurisdiction is greater than their territorial land mass! So it is no surprise that the sea has always played such a central role in the lives of Europeans.
Even in the wake of the most serious economic crisis since the Second World War, that central role will not decline. European shipping continues to control 40% of the world fleet, European shipbuilders still have the assets to remain world leaders in terms of turnover and innovation, and Europe’s coasts remain an attractive asset to people and industry, in particular the coastal and maritime tourism industries.
Millions of people are employed in maritime sectors and we will do all we can to offer them a prosperous future. With the new European Integrated Maritime Policy, that we are building, our coastal regions will remain instrumental in securing Europe’s global competitiveness and a high quality of life for all our citizens.
In the past, the only brakes on our mastery of the oceans have been technological constraints and the forces of nature. But there is increasing evidence that we have been wrong about this. The loss of biodiversity is very worrying and puts all the wealth we draw from marine resources at risk.
To ensure a prosperous future for our coastal regions, we must also act to both fight and adapt to climate change. We have to make sure that rising sea levels, coastal erosion, increasingly prevalent storms and flooding, drought and salination – particularly in the Mediterranean – do not become insurmountable barriers to investment and growth.
More than ever, our maritime challenges require a firm response. We must demonstrate that the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy is not a luxury for fair-weather days, but the key - in good times and bad - to creating investment, jobs and wealth by making the best use of our seas and oceans.
And I insist that this can be done while enhancing the sustainability of our seas. The loss of our oceans as a source of wealth would mean the end of a way of life and of our maritime identity. Impoverished biodiversity and the irreversible effects of climate change would plunge us into debts we could never pay back.
If we – politicians, administrations, scientists and industry – join forces, like here today, we can lead the world into a new era of genuine sustainable maritime activity. We can do more for green transport, for energy efficiency, for ways to deal with climate change.
Together we can push for research and technology, to innovate and change the way we do business. To give but one illustration, we have just allocated €500 million to investment in renewable ocean energy, as part of our response to the economic downturn.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our initiative for an Integrated Maritime Policy has the tools to get us to our destination.
Our integrated approach has led us away from dispersed efforts under environmental, transport or industry policies. We now have a consistent framework to steer our efforts in the same direction in a co-ordinated manner: towards our ambitions for sustainable growth in maritime sectors and coastal economies. We now have the means to deliver maritime prosperity and sustainability. And I am very proud to say that this vision is the joint achievement of all Europe’s maritime community, to which many of you have contributed.
Two thousand years ago, the Roman philosopher Seneca declared: “if one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable”. And for the Integrated Maritime Policy, it is time to choose our next port of call. It is time to look at what should be the future of the Integrated Maritime Policy .
This Commission has pursued an ocean-oriented agenda without precedent since the Treaty of Rome was signed more than fifty years ago. As a result, the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy has been at the forefront of an international trend towards integrated maritime governance. Australia, Canada, Japan and the US have spearheaded the movement through dedicated ocean policies, but they have not been alone in this. In Europe, Norway, France, Portugal and the Netherlands have gradually been applying integrated approaches.
More recently, we have witnessed a real sea change – if you'll excuse the expression - with initiatives towards integration in many Member States, including Germany, Ireland, Poland, Sweden and the UK.
In short, everyone is on board. It is now time to prepare for the next phase of consolidating and enhancing our policy for the future. I think the best way to do this is to concentrate on five strategic directions.
First, governance. The Commission will continue to develop its forward-looking vision and translate it into not only a combined maritime agenda but a specific Commission work programme. Only by coordinating our sea-related initiatives from a very early stage will we be able to achieve a genuine integrated approach to maritime affairs. We trust that other EU institutions will continue to accompany us in building the governance structure needed to deliver on this agenda.
Member States must also continue their progress in integrating their own policy-making, at both central and regional level. And we will continue to strengthen stakeholder involvement and support the organisation of stakeholders across different interests.
Second, in the context of integrated governance, we need to pursue the logic of cross-sectoral tools, notably to support economic development.
For example, we will promote further maritime spatial planning to allow new, growing uses of the sea. We will promote maritime clusters, access to knowledge and data on marine issues, as well as joint research programming.
We will also integrate fragmented sectoral surveillance systems, thereby enhancing safety, security, environmental monitoring and law enforcement on the seas; this is vital for Europe’s security, for the health of our oceans, and for quality of life on our coasts.
Third, we must further enhance a sea-basin approach to address specific maritime challenges in the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the North Sea and others.
Our sea-basin approaches have considerable economic potential. They can help unlock and co-ordinate investment into such key infrastructure as pipelines or power cables. They can help approach the ecosystem in a much more consistent manner and conduct joint environmental impact assessments.
Fourth, we need to look beyond Europe. Oceans and seas have no borders. We will push to make the idea of an Integrated Maritime Policy an established principle and practice in international maritime governance.
Fifth, we can do better to demonstrate that not only economic benefits, but truly sustainable development will be derive from our integrated approach to maritime affairs. In this vein, we will explore strong synergies between the European Energy Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy. We will promote energy generation from the sea and we will use it more for energy transportation as well.
We will also link better Europe's Climate Change Policy with Integrated Maritime Policy. We will invest in knowing much more about the role of the oceans in climate change. We will develop a strategy for adaptation to climate change in our coastal and maritime areas, aiming at protecting our critical coastal infrastructure and in preserving our much threatened marine biodiversity.
On the issue of preserving the marine environment, we will use the integrated approach to push for full implementation of the Marine Directive and assist Member States to deliver the initial assessments of their marine waters.
We will also have to work hard and promote better maritime transport. We will deliver on the actions of our Strategy for Maritime Transport for 2018. More specifically, we will act to make the Motorways of the Sea a reality, and improve our programme for short sea shipping.
We will create the necessary conditions for the full implementation of the European Maritime Area without Barriers, proposed by the Commission earlier this year, and we will deliver the guidelines we have promised on state aid to ports and on ports expansion.
Aiming at the economic development of our maritime activities, it is also important to streamline the application of tonnage tax regimes and the related state aid guidelines to shipping, so as to stimulate maritime employment and investment in EU-flagged shipping.
Finally, we will remain determined to advance the idea of clean ships not only to give European shipyards and our marine equipment industry a competitive technological edge over other regions of the world, but also to make maritime transport more sustainable.
In conclusion, when addressing the Integrated Maritime Policy and looking into the sectoral policies that are sea-related, we will systematically put the emphasis on growth and job creating initiatives.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Last year in Strasbourg, when launching this celebration for the first time, I said that I truly hoped 20 May would become a symbol of a new European vision for our oceans and seas.
Today, just one year later, I have no doubts: with the support and even enthusiasm of all of you, this day we celebrate is not only the symbol of a new vision, but its engine as well.