EC publishes maritime Green Paper
The European Commission today published a Green Paper entitled “Towards a Future Maritime Policy for the Union: A European Vision for the Oceans and Seas,” designed to create a forum among shipping stakeholders on the direction of European maritime policy.
The Green Paper puts forward a number of areas for discussion, including sustainable maritime development, quality of life in coastal regions, ocean management tools, maritime governance as well as European maritime heritage and identity.
“Europe has long benefited from its maritime activities. However, much more could be made of our seas and oceans to increase the prosperity and well being of European citizens,” said EC President Jos' Manuel Barroso. “Today’s Green Paper gives us all the opportunity to put our heads together to see how best to do it. I encourage everyone to have their say on how they see a future maritime policy for the Union which would boost jobs while protecting the marine environment.”
“As our maritime activities increase and diversify so does the need for coordination and planning so as to avoid conflict and optimize our returns from the sea,” said Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs. “An all-embracing approach would allow us to combine economic growth with effective protection of the marine environment and greater stakeholder participation. This is a project where member states, regions, industry, NGOs and the public all have an interest in finding the best way ahead in our future relation with the sea.”
The EC hopes to find an integrated policy that can satisfy all within the maritime domain. “The development of port infrastructure has to be weighed against the protection of local ecosystems, the promotion of coastal aquaculture and tourism development, as well as on the benefits of economic growth through foreign trade,” the EC said.
“The question is asked: is it really possible to continue to manage and develop all these different and frequently overlapping activities independently of one another? Or has not the time now come for Europe to invest in a truly integrated policy approach, if we are to succeed in creating a vibrant and sustainable maritime economy for the 21st century, and beyond?”
Brussels-based port lobby group European Sea Port Organization said that creating a legal certainty for port development is essential. “We have been saying this for a long time, and it also features as one of the key points in our recommendations for a future European port policy,” said Giuliano Gallanti, ESPO’s chairman.
“We must however carefully analyze whether what the Green Paper proposes is the answer, as maritime spatial planning concepts have so far been mainly ecologically driven. A true sustainable development policy must take into account economic needs on an equal basis. Also, few member states have experience with implementing maritime spatial planning.”
“The unintended effect of the application of environmental legislation on port investment projects is in contradiction with the policy objective of creating adequate infrastructure for maritime and intermodal transport to avoid congestion. We hope that the commission will give high priority to this problem,” Gallanti said.
The consultation process on the Green Paper will last until June 30, 2007. To view the Green Paper visit: http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/green_paper_en.html .