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Action plan for an integrated maritime policy

In order to protect maritime resources, the European Commission plans to put in place an integrated, horizontal and cross-sector maritime policy, encompassing all aspects of our relationship with the seas and oceans. The management framework, the objectives and the instruments proposed by the Commission are developed in this Communication which is founded on the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 October 2007 on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union [COM(2007) 575 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The creation of an integrated maritime policy requires a precise management framework. The Commission has created a Maritime Policy task force to analyse the interactions between the sectoral policies and coordinate them. It has also requested help from the Agencies of the European Union (EU) with maritime-related functions to draw up new policies. In addition, the development of new maritime policies involves consultation of civil society and all stakeholders as well as comprehensive impact assessments.


The prime objective of an integrated maritime policy for the EU is to maximise sustainable use of the oceans and seas while enabling growth of the maritime economy and coastal regions. In order to ensure the competitiveness, safety and security of the sector, the European Commission commits to:

  • creating a strategy to alleviate the consequences of climate change in coastal regions;
  • enhancing professional qualifications and studies in the maritime field to offer better career prospects in the sector;
  • creating a European maritime space without administrative or customs barriers as well as a comprehensive maritime transport strategy for 2008-18 to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of maritime transport in Europe;
  • issuing guidelines on the application of environmental legislation relevant to ports and proposing a new ports policy taking account of the multiple roles of ports;
  • encouraging the formation of multi-sector clusters and promoting technological innovation in the shipbuilding and energy sector to ensure economic competitiveness without harming the environment;
  • supporting international efforts to reduce pollution of the atmosphere and greenhouse gas emissions attributable to ships;
  • taking steps against discharges into the sea, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and any other destructive practices.

A second key objective is building a knowledge and innovation base for the maritime policy. Marine science, technology and research enable analysis of the effects of human activity on marine systems and put forward solutions to alleviate environmental degradation and the effects of climate change. The European Commission plans to:

  • present a comprehensive European strategy for marine and maritime research;
  • improve understanding of maritime affairs for the 7th framework programme;
  • support the creation of a European marine science partnership with the aim of establishing dialogue between the scientific community, the industry and policy makers.

An integrated policy also has the objective of delivering a higher quality of life in coastal and outermost regions, reconciled with economic development and environmental sustainability. The Commission therefore aims in particular to:

  • encourage coastal tourism;
  • prepare a database on Community funding for maritime projects and coastal regions;
  • create a Community disaster prevention strategy in these regions;
  • develop the maritime potential of outermost regions and islands.

The EU intends, moreover, to promote its leading position in international maritime affairs. An integrated policy enables improved management of maritime affairs and the creation of EU priorities in this field. This is of particular importance given the global character of the problems encountered by the maritime sector. Therefore, the Commission will encourage:

  • cooperation in maritime affairs under the European Enlargement Policy, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Northern Dimension and structured dialogue with major partners. The application of international agreements by partners is essential;
  • the Member States to ratify and apply the relevant instruments.

The final objective of this integrated policy is raising the visibility of Maritime Europe and improving the image of this sector's activities and professions. To this end, the Commission proposes positive actions and tools such as:

  • launch of educational tools (Atlas of the Seas) and instruments to highlight our common maritime heritage;
  • celebration of an annual European Maritime Day from 2008.


Three instruments are of particular importance for creating common maritime policies:

  • a European network for maritime surveillance to ensure the safe use of the sea and the security of the EU's maritime borders, as these problems are transnational in nature. The Commission particularly encourages cooperation between coastguards and the relevant agencies, and undertakes to improve the interoperability of surveillance systems;
  • integrated coastal zone management (land and sea) to enable maritime spatial planning. While it is the Member States who have competence in this field, Europe-wide commitment is essential. The Commission will propose a roadmap in 2008 to facilitate the development of this instrument;
  • a complete and accessible source of data and information on natural and human activity on the oceans to facilitate strategic decision-making on maritime policy. Measures will be taken to establish a European Marine Observation and Data Network and to create multi-dimensional mapping of Member States' waters.


The Communication follows on from the consultation launched in the Green paper on a Maritime Policy for the EU, by which the European Council of June asks the Commission to develop an action plan.


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 October 2010 establishing a Programme to support the further development of an Integrated Maritime Policy [COM(2010) 494 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. This Proposal establishes a programme aimed at supporting the measures planned to further the development and implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy. It is part of the continuation of preparatory actions and pilots projects to be launched between January 2011 and December 2013. The programme will provide financial resources for achieving the objectives and priorities set out in the action plan which was adopted in 2007.

Codecision procedure (COD/2010/0257)

Commission Communication of 8 October 2010 – Marine Knowledge 2020: marine data and observation for smart and sustainable growth [COM(2010) 461 – Not published in the Official Journal]. This Communication details an action plan which makes up one of the three cross-cutting tools provided for by the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy. This action plan is divided into three strands aimed at improving the reliability of marine data, making it more user-friendly and less expensive and stimulating competitiveness amongst the users of this data.

Commission Communication of 15 October 2009 - Towards the integration of maritime surveillance: A common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain [COM(2009) 538 – Not published in the Official Journal]. This Communication relates to the second cross-cutting tool provided for by the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy. It sets out guiding principles for the development of a common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain and launches the process towards its establishment. To achieve this, coordination and coherence between the European Commission, the Member States and interlocutors should be enhanced.

Communication from the Commission of 25 November 2008 – Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning: Achieving common principles in the EU [COM(2008) 791 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. Maritime Spatial Planning is an instrument of the Integrated Maritime Policy which helps to improve coordination between the parties involved and optimises the use of the seas and oceans. This Communication defines a set of fundamental principles inspired by current practice and existing legislation. These principles will serve as the basis for the discussions leading to the drafting of a common approach concerning Maritime Spatial Planning.

Report from the Commission of 15 October 2009 - Progress report on the EU's integrated maritime policy [COM(2009) 540 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. The Commission reviewed progress carried out under the framework of the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) since the adoption of the 2007 Communication and defined the six strategic directions for the future:

  • integration of maritime governance: EU institutions, Member States and coastal regions shall establish effective structures for the purpose of cross-sectoral collaboration and consultation with stakeholders. These structures shall enable the potential of all the synergies between maritime-related sectoral policies to be used. As much as is possible, it should prevent sectoral policies from being isolated from each other.
  • development of cross-cutting policy tools such as maritime spatial planning, exhaustive knowledge and databases on maritime spaces and integrated maritime surveillance. These tools can unlock considerable economic investments and improve the management of European maritime spaces.
  • definition of the boundaries for maritime activities in order to ensure sustainability: in the context of the Framework Directive "Strategy for the marine environment", these boundaries take into consideration the impact of the development of maritime activities on the seas and oceans.
  • sea-basin strategies: these strategies contribute to the success of the IMP. They enable the priorities and tools of the policy to be adapted to the specific geographic, economic and political context of each large European sea-basin.
  • strengthening the international dimension of integrated maritime policy: the EU must take a leading role in improving global maritime governance, as it has done in the matter of piracy or with regard to destructive fishing practices.
  • sustainable economic growth, employment and innovation: the EU shall define overall, coherent economic priorities in order to promote the development of intra-EU maritime transport, stimulate investment, advance the concept of clean ships and promote energy generation from the sea, etc. It shall also ensure that maritime policy and coastal areas are fully taken into account in the debate on territorial cohesion.

The Commission shall publish a document on the implementation of these six strategic directions in 2010.

Last updated: 03.12.2010