Toespraak Eurocommissaris Borg over de voortgang van een Europees maritiem beleid (en)

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC) i, gepubliceerd op vrijdag 20 maart 2009.

Joe Borg i

Member of the European Commission - Responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs

Making Headway on the Integrated Maritime Policy

Closing of the EU law course at the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI)

Malta, 20 March 2009

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak at the closing session of this course organised by the International Maritime Law Institute.

This is the fifth year that I am addressing students at the Institute – an annual event which I greatly look forward to.

I am also particularly glad to be here today to report good progress in our efforts to establish an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union.

I am sure the course you have completed has enabled you to enrich your knowledge, explore new horizons and prepare yourselves for the challenges ahead.

Our work towards an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union has been no different. It has been a learning experience from the word ‘go’. We have found developing a maritime policy for Europe to be every bit as interesting, challenging and rewarding as one might imagine.

The Integrated Maritime Policy brings with it a new geo-political vision for Europe’s vast maritime dimension. It allows us to take a long-term view of this dynamic sector with a view to reaping the maximum amount of benefits in a sustainable manner. And it provides a framework designed to assist us in meeting the challenges facing our oceans and seas.

Foremost amongst these challenges is clearly: climate change. We know that rising sea levels, acidification, warmer waters, storms and floods will alter marine ecosystems and particularly affect coastal areas. The Mediterranean will be particularly hard hit, not only by these phenomena, but also as a result of increased drought and high levels of salinity.

The unfolding global economic crisis also poses a threat to the welfare of many across Europe. I believe that the Integrated Maritime Policy can be a useful tool to not only secure the sustainable development of the maritime sectors but also to contribute towards a reversal of the overall recessionary trends particularly given the high growth potential of certain maritime industries.

The Integrated Maritime Policy has opened up new horizons for Europe. Its novel approach of setting a long-term and forward-looking perspective presents a framework with common objectives for all EU policies which in one way or another impact on our oceans, seas and coasts.

By providing an integrated perspective, it also enriches our knowledge and capacity to act. It allows us to paint a clear picture of the state of the oceans in all its facets. On this basis it defines the issues at stake and provides for clear policy goals.

Our project is already four years old.

It is not only one of the singular most important legacies that the Barroso Commission will leave to its successors at the end of this year. It is also one of the most far-reaching.

While on the one hand, the policy seeks to promote a thriving maritime economy, which continues to preserve the oceans and seas as a natural asset for future generations. It also draws together a number of very different competences of the European Union in the fields of knowledge and innovation, economic and environmental progress, social, regional and transport policy, and relations with our external partners.

We are already seeing encouraging results from our work.

For instance, cleaner engines, recycled ballast water and biodegradable material are increasingly being used on board ships and off-shore platforms. It is this combination of being ‘willing and able’ that can render the economy and ecology mutually reinforcing.

Taking this one step further, through eco-innovation, we find that environmental protection can actually fuel economic growth through new market development and reduced costs. Good examples of eco-innovation are renewable energies that are generated not only from wind but also from waves and tidal currents and the storage of carbon under the seabed.

This is a good illustration of what the Integrated Maritime Policy is about: building synergies in policies and tools and in the dialogue we hold with others. In practice this means making sure that industrial competitiveness does not come at the cost of our employment and social objectives, that our shipping policy tallies with the EU’s environmental goals and that science and innovation underpin our policy goals.

I believe that this way forward will assist us to not only preserve the oceans and seas in all their richness, as a source of wealth but will also help us to enhance the contribution the maritime sectors make to Europe’s prosperity.

This and the next slide highlight five main actions that have been identified in the Blue Paper (which is our blueprint) to take the Integrated Maritime Policy forward.

These objectives have been translated into a full programme of activities, allowing Europe’s maritime dimension to gain more coherence and to assume a stronger priority.

The idea is to ensure that efforts to promote sustainable economic development go hand in hand with technological progress and innovation through maximising the sustainable use of the oceans and seas, building a knowledge and innovation base as well as delivering the highest quality of life for coastal regions.

These objectives also make certain that due attention is given to maritime interests at all levels of policy, from the coastal regions of Europe to fora with global coverage.

Lastly, these objectives push for the importance of recognising maritime issues within civil society at large.

In order to achieve these aims, we have followed what is called a multi-layered approach: looking at the interactions that take place between different maritime sectors and levels of governance from the local to the regional to the central.

In order to illustrate this better, allow me to cite some of the most important policy initiatives on our maritime policy agenda.

Let me start with marine environmental protection.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive can be seen as the environmental pillar of the Integrated Maritime Policy. This Directive, adopted by the Council in 2008, commits Member States, through regional cooperation, to achieve a good environmental standard in EU marine waters by 2021. In other words, it covers the main ground for ensuring adequate marine environmental protection within the EU.

But we have gone further still. On the initiative of the Commission, the Council has already adopted a Regulation with measures to protect ecosystems on the high seas against destructive fishing practices.

Another example is our response to climate change. Not only are we actively engaged in the fight against climate change but we are also anticipating which coastal areas will need to adapt to its impact. To better estimate the costs of adaptation, we are conducting a study on the current and future budgets that public authorities are setting aside for this purpose.

The Action Plan also includes a full set of measures to support the competitiveness of European maritime industries. Europe can pride itself on having a strong maritime sector. European ship owners control almost 40% of the world fleet, European shipbuilders are world leaders in terms of turnover and innovation and Europeans dominate the emerging market for offshore renewable energy.

Additionally, the first ever European Maritime Research Strategy, ensuring focused and clearly targeted research measures, will also help European operators keep their technological edge and their strong competitive position.

There are also a number of initiatives underway which have a specific international dimension. This is because efforts at both a European and at the wider international level are needed to resolve certain issues such as: illegal, unreported and unregulated (so-called IUU) fisheries, the greenhouse effect and ship dismantling. The oceans and seas do not recognise borders and so transnational issues must be resolved by cross-border action, by Europe working in close cooperation with its international partners.

The actions I have just indicated were designed before the current economic downturn hit economic operators worldwide. Needless to say, the Commission is now having to re-assess its economic strategies - factoring the impact of the downturn into its current work.

The first sign of the Union moving in this direction, can be seen in the recently devised strategy for the future of maritime transport. Amongst other things, the Commission has essentially proposed that internal sea-borne trade must be facilitated by lighter customs and border procedures, similar to those currently in force on land.

New measures to encourage investment and employment in the maritime sphere are also emerging. These include the Commission’s proposal to earmark 500 million euros in support for offshore wind generation projects. This goes a long way towards greening investment and reducing Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Having said this I would like to underline that our ambitions for integrated maritime governance go beyond a mere list of projects. It also goes beyond an improvement in policy co-ordination within the Commission.

It is increasingly evident that we can only succeed in achieving our ambitious maritime policy goals if our integrated-thinking is reflected in the various levels of government concerned. In order to facilitate this new way of looking at things, last June, we issued guidelines to Member States with recommendations for setting up maritime governance systems. In response to this, Member States committed themselves to make available, on a central website, their experience of developing maritime strategies, inter-ministerial coordination, stakeholder dialogue and regional authority involvement. The aim was to provide interested parties with concrete means from which to learn best practice. There are a number of truly commendable initiatives taking shape, namely, inter alia, the Portuguese Ocean Strategy, the UK Marine Bill, the French Loi Grénelle and, at a regional level, Schleswig-Holstein’s maritime strategy and Brittany's coastal charter.

We are also working on a better and more targeted dialogue with stakeholders, placing consultation within a broader, cross-cutting context. In addition, we are also beginning to tailor-make our policy to cater for the different sea-basins in Europe.

We will also bring our maritime policy ideas to the table in multilateral and bilateral fora. Later this year we will present a strategy for the external projection of the EU Maritime Policy, which will define how to promote the EU’s role in international maritime affairs. This will allow us to work towards better international maritime governance and the enforcement of international maritime law.

A third layer of our work involves developing cross-cutting operational tools.

By building on work already underway and reaping already existing synergies, we can provide mechanisms that will benefit several sectoral areas at once.

One of these operational tools is maritime spatial planning.

A roadmap, explaining how maritime spatial planning can be put to good use was released in November 2008. The aim behind maritime spatial planning is to promote a rational use of Europe's maritime spaces in a way that balances out the interests of different users and allows for a more strategic planning of economic activities. We believe that maritime spatial planning can strengthen the competitiveness of the EU's maritime economy, whilst also taking environmental impacts into account.

Maritime surveillance is another such tool which involves issues such as border and customs controls, crime prevention, and maritime safety and security. The Commission has undertaken a first assessment of the viability of establishing a European maritime surveillance network that will cut across borders and economic activity. This is being done through the launching of pilot projects testing both the idea and the technology available. And on the basis of these, its long-term suitability as a tool will be assessed.

Finally, to ensure a broader access to marine data and observation, as a basis for research, policy and innovation, we are working on establishing a European Ocean Observation and Data Network.

I would like to conclude by mentioning two forthcoming milestones for the Integrated Maritime Policy.

On 20 May 2008 the Presidents of the EU institutions signed a declaration signalling the celebration of a European Maritime Day each year. To mark this occasion in 2009, the Commission, together with the Italian Government, is organising a stakeholder conference in Rome on 19 and 20 May. At this conference we are hoping for a broad participation by stakeholders, who will share their concerns and their suggestions for future work in ministerial panels and a series of workshops. Events will be held in parallel across Europe.

This autumn we will also deliver a progress report on the Integrated Maritime Policy to the Heads of State or Government meeting within the European Council. We will report to them what we have achieved under the Integrated Maritime Policy thus far. And on the basis of this, we will sketch out how to move forward – in good maritime tradition – full steam ahead.

I trust that this has given you a useful snapshot of what is underway in terms of this new European Policy.

Thank you for your attention and I wish you every success with your future.