European Maritime Day – working with Eastern neighbours to face common challenges

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 Eastern partners.
Maritime cooperation with the EU’s Eastern neighbours
Maritime safety is a challenge on many levels, and an issue that knows no borders: “we are not only talking about human safety, which is very important, but also about environmental protection, protection from sea pollution, and also protection of port facilities,” says Bakhtiyar Muradov, the coordinator in Azerbaijan of a regional EU-funded maritime safety project, SASEPOL.
To ensure that the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy fully responds to the concerns of coastal communities, the European Commission favours tailor-made regional approaches for each sea basin, developed in close cooperation with neighbouring countries that share the basin.
In the Black Sea region, major challenges include eutrophication, chemical pollution, threats to biodiversity and a serious decline of fish stocks, mainly due to inadequate fisheries conservation measures. To face these challenges, the EU Black Sea Synergy initiative, which includes Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, develops sectoral partnerships on environment, transport and energy to implement projects of regional significance.
Tailor-made regional approaches have also been devised for the Arctic and the Baltic, both of which have Russia as a littoral state.
At the same time, the EU also funds a number of regional projects dealing with maritime issues involving its Eastern Neighbours:
SASEPOL is a three-year (2009-2011) €3.5 million project funded under the TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) programme. Involving Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, as well as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the project supports the development of common security management, maritime safety and ship pollution prevention for the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. Specifically, it aims to assure safe and secure maritime links for passengers, crews, ships and cargoes; fosters higher standards of environmental safety at sea and in the relevant ports; contributes to creating a fully integrated multimodal transport corridor; and strives to provide transport customers with highly developed supply chains. (Project fiche)
Motorways of the Seas – Black Sea and Caspian Sea is a three-year (2009-2011) €2.5 million project, also funded under the TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia) programme. Involving Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, as well as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, the project promotes the Motorways of the Sea concept and the creation of better maritime transport connections in the wider Black Sea and Caspian Sea region. (project fiche)
Environmental Protection of the Black Sea: together with another project for the protection of river basins, this future project involving Russia, Georgia and Ukraine, will be part of a regional action aiming at protecting freshwater and marine environments in the wider Black Sea region. (Forecast for €4.5 million Black Sea environmental protection project)
ENPI Cross-Border Cooperation: two sea-basin programmes fund cross-border cooperation projects involving the EU’s Eastern Neighbours:
Black Sea Programme (2007-2013): this programme contributes to Black Sea Synergy cooperation sectors with a clear focus on civil society and local level cross-border cooperation. One of its three priorities concerns maritime issues, with a focus on environmental protection and conservation, includingcommon challenges in the environmental protection of river and maritime systems, and cooperation initiatives aimed at management of solid waste and wastewater management systems. (Programme website)
Baltic Sea Programme (2007-2013): this programme, which includes Belarus and several regions of the Russian Federation aims to strengthen development towards a sustainable, competitive and territorially integrated Baltic Sea region. One of its four priorities concentrates on environmental pollution of the Baltic Sea in a broader framework of a sustainable management of maritime resources. It supports operations aiming at limiting pollution of the marine environment, with special emphasis on enhanced maritime safety, while also promoting economic management of open sea areas by means of best available technologies and practices. (Programme website)
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.
The Conference will also review the Baltic Sea Strategy with all key stakeholders. This Strategy is a genuine success story in the regional approach: by interconnecting the players of a dozen countries and countless sectors, it has imparted unprecedented dynamism to the region and given rise to some 80 projects, ranging from transport to education. (ENPI Info Centre)
Read more
European Commission – International dimension of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy
European Commission – Black Sea Synergy
European Commission – EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
European Commission – The EU and the Arctic region
EC press release – A European Maritime Day that Puts People First
European Maritime Day website
ENPI Info Centre press pack – The EU and the Eastern Partners: Cooperation to face the environmental challenge
ENPI Info Centre feature – Safer ports in cleaner waters: towards international standards of maritime safety
ENPI Info Centre feature – Saving the Black Sea
ENPI Info Centre interview on SASEPOL – Improving maritime safety and battling pollution in the Black and Caspian Seas
ENPI Info Centre interview on Motorways of the Sea – Black and Caspian Sea project – Maritime highways to unlock a key transport route

Workshop in Moldova: How to measure green growth?
The EU-funded Eastern Partnership GREEN programme is organising a workshop for...
Armenia: EU project inspires kids to care about clean environment
The EU-funded Civil Society Local Energy Efficiency Network (CLEEN), in...
EU helps Tbilisi get greener
The first ten of 143 new environmentally-friendly buses, purchased by Tbilisi...
FEATURES - Archive
Moldova: pesticides, a dangerous heritage
After the fall of the Soviet Union, many of the successor states discovered a...
Georgia: Protecting shepherds to fight against climate change
Among Georgia’s 35 reserves and parks, the Vashlovani Protected Area is...
Moldova: Water is life - let’s improve it
Water quality has an immediate impact on people’s lives. Thanks to the...
RPR Roadmap of Reforms for Ukraine: September 2016 – December 2017
After the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine has been living through the most...
EU Neighbours East Annual Survey Report: Georgia - Spring 2016
Between April and June 2016, annual surveys were carried out across the six...
EU Neighbours East Annual Survey Report: Moldova - Spring 2016
Between April and June 2016, annual surveys were carried out across six Eastern...