International cooperation for combating Marine Pollution

Accidental pollution incidents at sea place enormous demands on the national authorities responsible for responding to the incident and cleaning up the pollution damage. Often the resources required are beyond the means of a single country. Hence, a number of maritime states have concluded regional and bilateral agreements to render mutual assistance whenever a pollution incident threatens their coasts. Often, because of their geographic position, countries are members of more than one cooperation agreement.

The European Community is also party to the following most relevant regional agreements:

  • The Convention of 1974 and 1992 on the protection of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea area (website: Helsinki Convention).
  • The Convention of 1976 for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution (website: Barcelona Convention).
  • The Agreement of 1983 for cooperation in dealing with pollution of the North Sea by oil and other harmful substances (website: Bonn Agreement).
  • The cooperation Agreement signed in 1990 for the protection of the coasts and waters of the North-East Atlantic against pollution, however this last Agreement is not yet in force (email: Lisbon Agreement).

The following graphical representation highlights the participation in the regional agreements of Member States, States not members of the European Union and the European Commission, showing that all major seas in the Community are covered by regional agreements. The picture also illustrates the importance of the Community’s co-ordinating role.