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Our Oceans, Seas and Coasts

Implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Developing common approaches, pooling resources through experience-sharing, bringing together the best technical expertise and investing in joint research are crucial tools to ensure that marine strategies are coherent, consistent and built on the best advice of the political and scientific community.

Common Implementation Strategy

The Directive requires from Member States detailed and coordinated input. In order to facilitate this work, Member States and the European Commission have set up an informal programme of coordination, the Common Implementation Strategy (CIS). The CIS is composed of the following working groups:


Highest level political group focused on ensuring the overall implementation of the Directive.

Link between Marine Directors and Working Groups, preparing material for the Marine Directors and overseeing the work of the Working Groups.

Prepare common methods for implementation of the Directive:

WG on Good Environmental Status to support Member States in the determination of GES.

WG on Economic and Social Analysis to develop common methodologies and approaches to carry out the economic and social analysis of the use of the marine waters.

WG on Data, Information and Knowledge Exchange to support Member States with their data reporting obligations.

Two technical subgroups, focusing on emerging areas of particular concern, underwater noise and litter, have been set up under WG GES to advise on the standardization of monitoring methods and provide a forum for exchange of principles and best practice on target setting and assessment methodologies.

More information about meeting dates and CIS documents can be found at the bottom of this page.

For the MSFD CIS future work programme 2014 and beyond click here.

2012 Deliverables

As defined by the Directive, three important steps in the implementation cycle took place in 2012. For this crucial deadline, the Member States were due to submit to the Commission by 15 October 2012 their reports on the following elements:

  • Initial assessment of the current environmental status of their marine waters (Art. 8 MSFD)
  • Determination of what Good Environmental Status (GES) means for the marine waters of relevant marine regions and subregions (Art. 9 MSFD)
  • Identification of environmental targets and associated indicators to guide progress towards achieving GES by 2020 (Art. 10 MSFD)

According to Article 12 of the Directive, the Commission will then assess whether these reported elements constitute an appropriate framework to meet the requirements of the Directive.

Public Consultation

Article 19 of the Marine Directive requires that each Member States organizes a public consultation procedure on the implementation of the Directive. Member States have to ensure that all interested parties are given early and effective opportunities to participate, involving where possible, existing management bodies or structures.

illustration - microphoneAn overview of the Member States' consultation procedures related to the three elements to be reported in 2012 (initial assessment, GES determination and establishment of targets) can be found here.

An overview of the Member States' consultation procedures related to the monitoring programme and the programme of measures can be found here.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive Scoreboard

In order to monitor and inform about how well Member States follow their reporting obligations, an informal Marine Strategy Framework Directive scoreboard has been developed. Read more here.

Regional Cooperation

The Marine Directive sets out a regional approach to the management of our seas, requiring Member States to cooperate with their neighbours when developing their marine strategies.

Sharing our marine waters does not mean only sharing the benefits from the seas, but also addressing together the numerous challenges to be faced in achieving GES.

Drainage basins of regional seas

The frameworks developed by Member States to implement the Directive should be coherent within the different marine regions or sub-regions and across the European Union. For instance, the determination of what GES means for a Member State’s marine waters, let’s say in terms of the levels of marine litter in the waters, should be coherent with what neighbouring Member States, sharing the same waters, have determined (which does not necessarily mean that it should be similar as each national situation should be taken into account).

Common Implementation meeting dates and documents

A concise overview of all meetings (past and future) can be found here.

The CIRCABC platform is used to share documents under the MSFD Implementation Strategy (including meeting documents) and can be accessed here:

New CIRCABC web platform
Marine Strategy Public Library

Please also note that:

  • In line with the principle of transparency, all sections of the library are public except for the MSFD Regulatory Committee(accessible only to registered Committee Members / Expert).
  • Measures to ensure personal data protection: from now on the minutes of the CIS meetings will contain the name and organisation of the participants, without further personal data (no email, no address, no telephone).

To know more about European research projects on the sea, go to our Research page!

Other challenges for a successful implementation

  • The need to devise appropriate financing strategies, tapping into all relevant financial resources within the EU, in coherence with Article 22 of the MSFD;

  • The integration of sectoral policies, whether maritime sectors or activities on land affecting the marine environment;

  • Active dissemination and communication on the marine environment;

  • Enhanced participation of stakeholders at all levels: national, regional, European and international. The organisation of major events could contribute to this end.