Find out more about the toll climate change is taking on marine ecosystems and the work carried out by the Commission to achieve a healthy marine environment and make ecosystems more resilient to climate change. Read more
The aim of the European Union's ambitious Marine Strategy Framework Directive (adopted in June 2008) is to protect more effectively the marine environment across Europe. It aims to achieve good environmental status of the EU's marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive constitutes the vital environmental component of the Union's future maritime policy, designed to achieve the full economic potential of oceans and seas in harmony with the marine environment.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive establishes European Marine Regions on the basis of geographical and environmental criteria. Each Member State - cooperating with other Member States and non-EU countries within a marine region - are required to develop strategies for their marine waters.
The marine strategies to be developed by each Member State must contain a detailed assessment of the state of the environment, a definition of "good environmental status" at regional level and the establishment of clear environmental targets and monitoring programmes.
Each Member State must draw up a programme of cost-effective measures. Prior to any new measure an impact assessment which contains a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the proposed measures is required.
Where Member States cannot reach the environmental targets specific measures tailored to the particular context of the area and situation will be drawn up.
The goal of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is in line with the objectives of the 2000 Water Framework Directive 2000 which requires surface freshwater and ground water bodies - such as lakes, streams, rivers, estuaries, and coastal waters - to be ecologically sound by 2015 and that the first review of the River Basin Management Plans should take place in 2020.
On 1 September 2010, Commission adopted a decision outlining the criteria necessary to achieve good environmental status for Europe's seas. Read the press release here.