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European Commission

Maria Damanaki

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Europe in the Global Maritime Economy

Euromaritime Fair/Paris

7 February 2013

Dear Minister Cuvillier , dear President Vallat, dear participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I'd like to thank you for inviting me to visit Euromaritime, the first event dedicated to the European Maritime Economy since the adoption last September of the Commission's Blue Growth Communication.

Unfortunately, I couldn't be with you Tuesday on the opening of Euromaritime as I had to attend the debate on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. I'd like to apologize for this delay but also to thank you Minister Cuvillier for the kind words towards the European Commission in your opening speech two days ago. We really have to work together.

After having visited the fair, I am convinced that I was right to grant my Patronage to Euromaritime on behalf of the European Commission. By doing so I wanted to underline the need for a permanent dialogue between the European Decision makers and the private sector whose active involvement is indispensable for a successful implementation of our Blue Growth agenda.

Here in France the maritime sectors gather more than 300 000 direct jobs and generate €52 billion of gross value added. In the EU, maritime sectors employ well over 5 million people and account for a gross value added of €500 billion.

But there are more opportunities for sustainable growth in all marine and maritime sectors, be they big or small, traditional or growing sectors: this is the key message of Blue Growth.

This is the agenda for growth and jobs in maritime sector, which I proposed and Member States adopted last October, in Limassol.

To favour Blue Growth, we decided to focus on those sectors that have the greatest potential for growth and spill-over effects: ocean energy, aquaculture, marine mineral resources, blue biotechnology and maritime, coastal and cruise tourism.

As stated in the Blue Growth Communication, this list should not be considered exhaustive. Ongoing Member States or private initiatives are already encouraging innovation in other sectors such as maritime transport or shipbuilding. For example, here in France, the French Council for maritime Research and Innovation – CORICAN is supporting innovation in the shipbuilding industry.

Let me update you briefly on what we're doing for each of these five areas.

  1. The offshore wind sector is already on the verge of industrialisation, and now it is time to invest on wave and tidal energy generation. We have to act now if we are to maintain our leading role and ensure a cleaner and greener future for ourselves and our children. We are working on an impact assessment on marine renewable energy resources

  2. 2.seabed mining for non-energy raw materials. If seabed mining becomes legally, technologically and economically feasible, I believe we should ask ourselves how involved Europe should be.

  3. 3.tourism. The Commission will adopt this year a Communication on maritime, coastal and cruise tourism. This sector is the single largest maritime activity in Europe. We need a European approach to help Member States compete with other world resorts; to promote skills development and diversification; to improve infrastructure and connectivity.

  4. biotechnology. Europe has the know-how to develop new products from the sea: anti-cancer drugs and other pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, elements for food, feed and chemical industry, even biofuels. We are just beginning to appreciate the myriad of opportunities and solutions offered by marine nature.

  5. 5.aquaculture. Given the relative stagnation of this sector compared to other parts of the world, we, with our new guidelines are going to cut red tape and provide EU operators with a level-playing field where they can build upon their undeniable strengths.

If we can be successful on this, then we are talking of over one and a half million more jobs and over a hundred billion more euros per year by the end of this decade.

And if we want that our industry and services remain world leaders in the marine and maritime sectors and compete successfully on a global scale, what we have to do is clear. We have to do our best, so the operators and entrepreneurs have the appropriate economic environment, the appropriate legal framework and the best possible aid to innovation.

Our aim is reducing the investment risk to authorities, maritime industries and SMEs alike, lowering costs and opening new markets.

This is what we will be doing in the coming months through other specific initiatives:

  1. creating , by 2020, a new seamless multi-resolution digital seabed map of European waters,

  2. working with our member States to implement Maritime Spatial Planning that will provide certainty for investors and reduce administrative and licensing burden for economic activities at sea,

  3. strengthening the integration of our Maritime Surveillance in order to know more about maritime activities and better protect our citizens.

In order to do that, we need the active involvement of the European maritime sectors.

This is where maritime clusters and smart specialisation strategies come into play.

They can maximise competitive and comparative advantages.

They help unite and connect systems that are otherwise fragmented and that otherwise disperse resources.

I strongly believe that maritime clusters at European level, including the European Network of Maritime Clusters, can renew the industrial fabric of coastal regions.

Being in France I'd like to mention the dynamism of the French Maritime Cluster which gathers 300 companies and succeeded in breaking barriers and creating synergies for the development of our maritime economy.

For Europe to maintain the current industrial lead, we need to set the framework for innovation to flourish, providing the tools and instruments for moving from theory to practice and accelerating commercialisation of research results.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We can strengthen Europe's economy and we can help pull it out of the recession: through the Blue Economy.

I wish you every success. Thank you.

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