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Brussels, 10 October 2008.

EU Maritime Policy: a first year marked by achievements

Precisely one year ago, and after one of the most comprehensive stakeholder consultations ever, the European Commission tabled its proposal for an Integrated EU Maritime Policy. EU Heads of State and Government endorsed the Commission's vision only weeks later at the December European Council under the Portuguese Presidency. The European Commission marks the first anniversary of the Integrated Maritime Policy by reviewing the concrete progress achieved to date. The last twelve months have seen major new initiatives in areas as varied as border surveillance, sustainable tourism, maritime transport strategy, climate change, marine and maritime research strategy, or maritime governance. At the same time, the Commission's services coordinating this policy have been reorganised within DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to provide cross-cutting coordination on a regional basis. The Commission plans to launch a number of new policy initiatives in the coming months which will also make an immediate, tangible difference to the way our oceans are managed.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg commented, "The EU Integrated Maritime Policy is making excellent headway, and the list of concrete achievements is already impressive. I look forward now to the consolidation phase, as we build on this basis to provide real value-added to maritime stakeholders, and ensure a truly sustainable future for the EU's seas and oceans."

Some of the highlights of the last 12 months include:

  • The publication of Guidelines for an Integrated Approach to Maritime Policy, describing how Member States, regions and stakeholders can all help to mainstream integrated thinking and improve the governance of our oceans;
  • The Commission's proposal for a European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), to prevent unauthorised crossings, reduce loss of life at sea, and enhance Europe's security;
  • The Agenda for a Sustainable and Competitive Tourism published by DG Enterprise, which pays special attention to the need for a holistic approach to tourism in maritime areas;
  • The launch of the Marine and Maritime Research Strategy by the DG Research, which aims to better integrate European marine and maritime research sectors, doing away with partitions between different disciplines, and
  • The creation of European Maritime Day on 20 May, as a focus for stakeholder activity and the celebration of Europe's maritime dimension.

Work has also started to create cross-cutting, cost-efficient tools underpinning the goals of the EU's maritime policy. These include a Roadmap on Maritime Spatial Planning that will be adopted shortly, and work on tools for better maritime surveillance, which will be tested through a number of pilot projects. Several studies are also underway which will feed directly into integrated maritime policy, such as that on maritime clusters as interfaces between industry and their key partners.

Upcoming highlights from across the Commission will include a strategy for the Arctic region, a Communication on offshore wind energy, an initiative on climate change adaptation, a strategy for maritime transport over the next decade and the creation of a European Space for Maritime Transport without barriers. Regional implementation is also crucial to the integrated approach, as witness not only the forthcoming Arctic Strategy, but also the Baltic Sea Region strategy being prepared by DG Regional Policy and the consultation launched by DG MARE on how to apply the Integrated Maritime Policy to the Mediterranean.

Thanks to all these actions, the EU is now widely recognised as a leading player in the international movement towards integrated maritime policies, alongside the US, Canada, Japan, china, Australia, Norway, and other countries more. The Commission has started to build up structured dialogue relations with these countries and will endeavour to include maritime policy issues also in it partnership with Mediterranean and Black Sea countries under the European Neighbourhood Policy. In parallel, the Commission has started to review its policy with respect to the United Nations and specialised international organisations in the maritime area and assess the contribution which effective multilateral cooperation can make to enhancing maritime security and safety for fishermen and merchant vessel crews, the preservation of marine biodiversity and to establishing better global maritime governance.

The very next Maritime Policy event at EU level will be the Biomarine Conference to be held in Toulon and Marseille from 20-24 October. This conference has been organised by the French Presidency of the EU, to provide an opportunity for business, science, government, civil society and media to discuss marine sustainability from a cross-cutting perspective.


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