According to the official press release of the European Union, the European Commission has launched today a proposal with a view to improve the planning of maritime activities at sea and the management of coastal areas. In particular, the proposal will establish a common European framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management with the purpose of ensuring growth of maritime and coastal activities as well as sustainability of resources.
“By facilitating sustainable development and investments at sea, the Directive will contribute to make real the potential of Europe’s Blue Economy for growth and jobs”, stated European Commissioner for Maritime Affaires and Fisheries Maria Damanaki.
Member States will have to map all activities in maritime spatial plans in order to ensure more efficient use of seas and develop the appropriate coastal management strategies. Better coordination between land and sea based activities would bring benefits in areas such as, for example, the connection of offshore wind installations to energy grids on land etc.
In addition, using a single instrument to balance all interests will increase certainty for investors and reduce the administrative burden for national administrations and operators. Currently, in some countries one needs to contact up to 8 administrative agencies before securing a permit for an aquaculture site. According to estimations, these developments could lead to economic benefits of up to EUR 1.6 billion across the EU, particularly for SMEs.
Finally, one of the main benefits will be preserving ecosystems. As European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: “This initiative will contribute to a healthy environment and better living conditions for the 200 million EU citizens who live in coastal regions.”
The today’s proposal is an essential part to develop Europe’s Blue Economy. The European Union is aiming to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020. Maritime sectors offer areas for innovation, sustainable growth and employment which should contribute to this objective.
The Commission proposal will now be considered by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. Once adopted, the new initiative will become EU law.