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Strategy for the marine environment

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Strategy for the marine environment

Europe’s marine environment suffers from various pressures harming the health of the marine ecosystem. This directive establishes a common framework and objectives for the prevention, protection and conservation of the marine environment against damaging human activities.

ACT

Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive).

SUMMARY

Europe’s marine environment suffers from various pressures harming the health of the marine ecosystem. This directive establishes a common framework and objectives for the prevention, protection and conservation of the marine environment against damaging human activities.

WHAT DOES THIS DIRECTIVE DO?

Establishes minimum requirements for EU countries to develop strategies aiming to protect the marine ecosystem and to ensure economic activities linked to the marine environment are sustainable.

Ensures cooperation within the marine regions (North-East Atlantic, Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea) by setting up cross-border programmes. These programmes include actions to meet agreed targets to allow the achievement of ‘good environmental status’* by 2020.

Contributes to the creation of a global network of marine-protected areas and launches a dialogue with countries outside the EU.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

In 2014, the Commission reviewed the first steps in the implementation of the directive. Since then, EU countries have established their monitoring programmes.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive serves as an environmental guideline for the Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning published in 2014.

The latter is a part of the integrated maritime policy (IMP), which aims for the implementation of an optimal ocean management and maritime governance. The IMP aims to support and facilitate the implementation of Europe 2020, the European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Authorities in EU countries are expected to organise activities in marine areas to achieve environmental, economic and social objectives.

EU countries must draw up programmes of measures to be taken. These map out the scope of the area to be covered and set the timeframes for existing and future actions to manage marine activities in a sustainable manner.

KEY POINTS

EU countries must assess the environmental status of their marine waters and the impact of human activities (including a socioeconomic analysis). They must then establish objectives for reaching a good environmental status by 2020, set environmental targets, develop monitoring networks and prepare programmes of measures.

Initial evaluations can help improve knowledge of Europe’s marine waters through programmes such as Marine knowledge, INSPIRE or Copernicus.

Europe’s seas are divided into four marine regions: the Baltic Sea, the North-East Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Countries working in the same marine regions are required to coordinate their actions.

Monitoring programmes are drawn up to measure and evaluate progress in reaching the objectives. If certain objectives are not met, EU countries must explain why and can, if necessary, apply certain exceptions.

KEY TERMS

A ‘good environmental status’ relates to ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas that are clean, healthy and productive. The aim is to ensure that the marine environment is safeguarded for current and future generations.

For more information, see the European Commission’s Our Oceans, Seas and Coasts webpage.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Transposition deadline for Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2008/56/EC

15.7.2008

15.7.2010

OJ L 164 of 25.6.2008, pp. 19-40

RELATED ACTS

Directive 2014/89/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning (Official Journal L 257 of 28.8.2014, pp. 135-145).

Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: The first phase of implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) - The European Commission’s assessment and guidance (COM(2014) 97 final of 20.2.2014).

Last updated: 19.12.2014

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