A Maritime Policy Favouring Growth
Smart growth is the name of the game today, as set out in the EU’s growth strategy for 2020, and has been the focus of my efforts as Commissioner. We have started a maritime spatial planning exercise that will enable us to exploit maritime space rationally and give adequate room to alternative energy, low carbon transport and blue biotechnologies.
To foster growth and employment, we are promoting maritime skills and attractive jobs in this field. By integrating different maritime surveillance systems, we are cutting costs, helping to fight crime and reducing the risks for businesses operating at sea. Finally, we are reinforcing our knowledge base by completing the seabed mapping of the EU waters together with the best European marine researchers.
As an Integrated Maritime Policy cuts across a number of sector-specific areas, such as Regional Policy, Transport, or Environment, the past two years have seen us working closely with other Commission departments to fine-tune our policies and maximise their effects.
To maximise the economic potential of each of these sectors, we have launched our Blue Growth initiative, which will help us understand where to focus for the next few years. Take tourism, for instance, which holds huge economic promise for Europe and for which we are now preparing a concrete strategy; or offshore wind energy, where employment numbers could potentially reach 170 000 by 2020 – that is to say a fivefold increase over ten years. And ocean energy from currents, tides, thermal potential or algae could be equally promising, if we play our cards right. I think Blue Growth will be capable of letting these new activities emerge and prepare younger generations for the jobs of tomorrow – this is why I promote it.
There can be no one-size-fits-all policy for a maritime continent as diverse as Europe. In the past two and a half years, we have produced tailored approaches for each of our sea basins.
On a proposal by Vice-President and High Representative Catherine Ashton and myself, the Commission adopted a Communication refining the EU’s policy towards the Arctic. Our priorities: combating climate change, developing green technologies and supporting Arctic research. We will engage with our Arctic partners and the indigenous population in an open and frank dialogue to boost the economic development of the region while making sure that the highest environmental and safety standards are met.
For the Black Sea region, we have rekindled the Black Sea Synergy Initiative, launched the Environment Partnership in 2010, organised a Stakeholders Conference in 2011 and multiplied the opportunities for cooperation and exchange – be it with Member States or candidate countries. We are working to create a specific Working Group for the Black Sea.
On the Atlantic Ocean, we adopted a maritime strategy in 2011 that identifies challenges and opportunities and takes stock of existing initiatives supporting growth and jobs in the area. We are now working with stakeholders and Member States, within the framework of the Atlantic Forum, to deliver an Action Plan in 2013. Our discussions focus on applying the ecosystem approach, reducing Europe’s carbon footprint, exploiting seafloor resources sustainably, dealing with risks and emergencies and promoting socially inclusive growth.
We have also reached consensus on strengthening maritime cooperation in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. This maritime cooperation strategy can serve as a potential first step towards the launch of an EU macro-regional strategy for the area. On the Baltic Sea, we have been working on long-term management plans and we are aiming at setting joint quotas.