In Europe, there are four cooperation structures which aim to protect the marine environment and bring together Member States and neighbouring countries that share marine waters: the Regional Sea Conventions.
Cooperation among Member States and with third countries has been taking place through these Conventions for more than 30 years.
On one hand, the Regional Sea Conventions (RSC) implement progressive action compatible with the requirements of the Marine Directive. On the other hand, the Directive includes numerous provisions, which aim at ensuring that the implementation of the Directive not only contributes but also builds upon the activities of the Regional Sea Conventions, which cover EU marine regions or sub-regions.
In particular, Article 6 of the Directive requires Member States to use the institutional structures and activities of the RSC to facilitate the implementation of the Directive notably in relation to third countries. The Directive also ensures that RSC and other international agreements are taken into account at all stages of the development of marine strategies. Finally, the Commission was required to consult with RSC when developing standards and methodological criteria on good environmental status.
The four European Regional Sea Conventions are:
The European Community is a party to the first three Conventions. For the Black Sea region, one priority of the European Commission is that the Bucharest Convention is amended to allow the European Community to accede (see Communication on Black Sea Synergy, COM(2007) 160 final).
Analysis of Regional Sea Convention needs ensuring better coherence of approaches under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Regional Sea Conventions can support the implementation of the Marine Directive in at least three main ways: by improving regional and cross-regional coherence of national implementation; by making the RSCs’ long-standing experience and established structures for cooperation available to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of national implementation; and by offering practical opportunities for the mobilisation and coordination of relevant third countries’ activities. A study aimed to identify key support needs of the RSCs concerning their role in relation to the implementation of the Marine Directive, to outline corresponding support options and to develop a work-plan for implementing the support options was prepared for the Commission.