Every year on May 20, European Maritime Day is celebrated across the European Union to showcase the importance of the sea and oceans in everyday life. But the opportunities and challenges currently facing maritime regions and sectors across Europe – from tourism and fisheries to maritime transport and climate change – are not limited to member states, a fact reflected by the focus on maritime issues in the EU’s cooperation with its Mediterranean partners.
Euro-Mediterranean maritime cooperation
In the Mediterranean, over twenty different coastal states share one marine space hosting diverse and intense maritime activity and at the same time facing problems which cannot be solved by States or industries acting alone.
The specificitiesof the Mediterranean sea-basin and the increasingly trans-boundary nature of maritime activities and related impacts, call for a joint effort to improve maritime governance in the basin. Collaboration is essential, says European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki: “The European Union and the International Community must work together towards building a better future for the peoples of the Mediterranean, through Maritime growth that would generate sustainable jobs and prosperity.”
The EU's Integrated Maritime Policy
aims set to improve the ability of coastal States to respond together to the maritime challenges facing the Mediterranean sea-basin.
“The challenges affecting the Mediterranean Sea call for shared and, above all, integrated responses, rooted in improved maritime governance,”
says the European Commission’s strategy to improve maritime governance in the Mediterranean (Towards an Integrated Maritime Policy for better governance in the Mediterranean
). “This is particularly relevant when considering the ever-increasing demands for natural resources and pressures on the marine environment, as well as the continued need for growth and jobs in maritime sectors and regions.”
The EU also funds a number of regional projects dealing with maritime issues in the Euro-Mediterranean area:
a three-year, €5.5 million regional project on maritime safety and prevention of pollution in the Mediterranean. Its objective is to mitigate the current imbalance in the application of maritime legislation in the region between EU Member States and their Mediterranean partners countries. (SAFEMED II – website
Integrated Maritime Policy for the Mediterranean
(IMP-MED) a €1.5 million Euromed Transport project seeking to promote an integrated approach to maritime issues in the Mediterranean. The project’s main task is to provide support to states interested in developing a national integrated maritime policy and identification of coordinated actions in the maritime sector at the regional level. (IMP-MED - regional activities to be coordinated from Tunis
Mediterranean Motorways of the Sea
is also funded by the EU under the Euromed Transport Programme
. It aims at improving transport connections between the EU and its Mediterranean neighbours and to promote the Motorways of the Sea (MoS
) concept and assist the partner countries in further implementing the maritime transport and port operations actions as adopted in the Regional Transport Action Plan (RTAP
), a road map for transport cooperation. (Mediterranean Motorways of the Seas II - presentation
:Euro-Mediterranean governments aim to tackle the top sources of Mediterranean pollution by the year 2020 through the Horizon 2020 initiative, an umbrella programme drawing together all the policies, strategies and action plans for enhancing environmental protection. The inclusion of Horizon 2020 as one of the six components of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) adds to the political impetus to address major environmental challenges. The initiative has mechanisms in capacity-building, research, monitoring and review. (Horizon 2020 website
Sustainable Water Management and De-pollution of the Mediterranean:
A €22 million (2009-2013) programme that aims at enforcing sustainable water management policies, disseminating good practices in the region and supporting the Horizon 2020 initiative
for the de-pollution of the Mediterranean. (project fiche
- The Mediterranean bears 30% of global sea-borne trade in volume from or into its more than 450 ports and terminals, and a quarter of worldwide sea-borne oil traffic.
- Its coasts are home to more than 150 million inhabitants, a figure which doubles during the tourist season.
- Half of the EU’s fishing fleet is active in the Mediterranean, mostly small sized and artisanal, together with an increasing marine aquaculture production.
- Pressure on fish stocks is also exerted by vessels from the Southern Mediterranean and non-EU countries.
European Maritime Day
This year, the 4th edition of the European Maritime Day Conference on 19-20 May is being held in Gdańsk (Poland), with around 1,000 participants expected.
Maritime Day has become the main European event where stakeholders from a large range of maritime sectors meet and discuss the opportunities and challenges currently facing maritime regions and sectors across Europe.
The title of this year's European Maritime Day is "Putting People First" – because the conference is centred on the many benefits that an integrated approach to Maritime Policy brings to European citizens.
The Conference will take stock of the different initiatives which are already underway. For instance, a more stable and transparent maritime planning system provides legal certainty for investors and improves the economic climate; closer international cooperation on surveillance improves border control as well as search and rescue operations; easier access to marine data enables European researchers to create innovative new products and services; and a healthier marine environment means we are all better off.
"Putting People First" also includes a focus on the ways maritime sectors can bring more jobs. Panels will discuss how to make maritime careers more appealing to young people, and how to promote mobility between jobs and sectors. (ENPI Info Centre