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Old Continent; New Plan For The Seas

  • October 11th, 2007
  • Posted by Susie Lipscomb

eu-map-reduced.jpgThe seas surrounding Europe have been named as the next field of opportunity, in the drive to squeeze more growth, jobs and sustainability out of the resources of the Old Continent.


The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso yesterday (10.10.07) announced a new integrated maritime policy for coastal waters, declaring that a “great part” of the EU’s future lies in the depths of its oceans.

Until now the EU has separately developed its policies on maritime transport, industry, coastal regions, offshore energy and fisheries.

The new package will bring all these sectors together with the aim of strengthening Europe’s marine research, technology and innovation.

It’s the latest installment in the “jobs, growth and stability” project known as the Lisbon strategy; the drive for creating a smart economy based on high efficiency in production while conserving not squandering natural resources.

It’s also a field of large-scale opportunity, considering that the European coastline stretches three times longer than that of the United States; that nearly half the EU population lives less than 50km from the sea, and that five million of the people make their living directly from sea-related jobs.

The action plan includes: a strategy against the effects of climate change on the coasts; a European marine observation and data network; an unrestricted maritime transport space; and integrated national maritime policies.


The European Commission says it is determined the new package will improve, not compromise, environmental sustainability.

One of the projected benefits of a comprehensive maritime strategy will be to keep a strict watch on exploitation of the environment, in order to help achieve the EU greenhouse target : a 20% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

As a few examples: marine-based renewable energy is to reduce demand for polluting fossil fuels; and the number of off-shore wind turbines is growing fast, with strong prospects also for wave and tidal energy.


Following the adage of obtaining advice from those who know the territory, the EC enlisted seagoing workers as “social partners” in the lead up to its policy release.

As part of the new package, it is running a six-week consultation with the workers to study changes in the “social framework”, to improve job conditions in seafaring industries – extending to revised standards for health and safety.


“An ocean of opportunity — new EU maritime policy”, 10.10.07,, (11.10.07).

“Seagoing workers invited on board …”, 10.10.07, IP/07/1464.