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Development and integrated management of coastal zones

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Development and integrated management of coastal zones

The European Union recommends that the Member States adopt a strategic and integrated approach to the management of their coastal zones. To that end, it lays the foundations for such an approach based on the protection of the coastal area, its economic and socio-cultural development and on coordination. It also recommends a series of principles, a national stocktaking exercise and a national strategy.


Recommendation 2002/413/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2002 concerning the implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe [Official Journal L 148 of 06.06.2002].


On account of the importance of coastal zones to Europe, the European Union (EU) recommends that the Member States take a strategic approach to their management. This must be based on:

  • protection of the coastal environment;
  • recognition of the threat posed by climate change;
  • the implementation of coastal protection measures including protection of coastal settlements and their cultural heritage;
  • sustainable economic opportunities and employment options;
  • a functioning social and cultural system;
  • accessible land for recreational purposes and aesthetic reasons;
  • the cohesion of remote coastal communities;
  • improved coordination of measures.

A deeper analysis of the problems associated with the management of coastal zones can be found in a Commission Communication of 2000 - COM(2000) 547 final. As in the Communication, the recommendation underlines the importance of following a number of principles in managing coastal zones. This entails taking a broad overall perspective (thematic and geographic) in the long term which takes into account distinctive local features and is based on adaptive management making adjustment easier. Turning to actors, all the parties concerned must be involved and supported by relevant administrative bodies at the different levels. Lastly, in terms of instruments, use of a combination of several should facilitate coherence.

At the same time, the EU recommends that Member States undertake a national stocktaking to identify the main actors, laws and institutions involved in the management of coastal zones across all sectors and levels. A national strategy should then be proposed.

The Union considers that these strategies could be specific to the coastal zones or be part of a geographically broader plan. In any case, the national strategy (ies) should identify and determine all aspects concerning the actors, the instruments, the resources and the dissemination of information. To be more exact, they should determine the role of the administrative actors and their coordination to allow adequate control and consistency of the actions, and to strengthen the laws governing both the marine and on-shore areas of coastal zones. In addition, measures to promote public participation in management and sources of sustainable financing must be identified.

On the matter of instruments, in developing their strategies the Member States should consider the advantages of:

  • national strategic plans for ensuring the control of any additional land-use planning and the exploitation of non-urban areas which should respect the natural characteristics of the coastal environment;
  • land purchase mechanisms and declarations of public domain to ensure public access to recreational areas without prejudice to the protection of sensitive areas;
  • contractual or voluntary agreements with coastal zone users;
  • harnessing economic and fiscal incentives;
  • applying regional development mechanisms.

Lastly, the strategies should also identify mechanisms to ensure full and coordinated implementation and application of legislation in the field and adequate systems for monitoring and disseminating information to the public. It would be advisable also to study how national training and education programmes could support the implementation of the above principles.

With the aim of resolving cross-border problems, the recommendation advises cooperation with neighbouring countries, including non-member countries in the same regional sea. Cooperation between the Member States and the Community institutions and other interest groups is also necessary to assess the need to set up a European coastal interest groups forum.

For 2006, the recommendation provides that the Member States must present to the Commission a report with, among other things, the results of the national stocktaking exercise, the national strategy, a summary of the actions taken and an evaluation.


Commission Report of 7 June 2007 on the evaluation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in Europe [COM(2007) 308 final - Official Journal C 191 of 17.8.2007].

The Commission stresses the recommendation's positive effects. Most coastal Member States have adopted management strategies for coastal zones, but they will have to make a constant effort - particularly regarding financing and indicators - to implement the strategies. The priorities for the promotion of coastal zone management lie in adapting to climate change and risks and the management of various interests related to coastal and marine zones. The Commission also acts as coordinator to ensure coherence and synergy between coastal zone instruments and policies.

Last updated: 01.10.2007