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EU leaders endorse sustainable growth strategy for the Atlantic

(01/07/2013) At the European Council Summit on 27 and 28 June 2013, the 27 leaders of the EU Member States gave their support to the Action Plan for the implementation of the Maritime Strategy for the Atlantic Ocean area.

The Action Plan was adopted by the Commission on 13 May 2013. It aims to pinpoint how the EU's Atlantic Member States, their regions and the Commission can help create sustainable growth in coastal regions and drive forward the "blue economy", which has the potential to provide 7 million jobs in Europe by 2020. At the same time, the environmental and ecological stability of the Atlantic Ocean must be preserved.

The Atlantic area is home to numerous maritime activities. This includes both traditional activities, such as fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and shipping, as well as emerging ones such as offshore renewables and marine biotech. Individually, the Atlantic Member States (Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom) are doing a lot in each of these areas and some have adopted their own respective maritime strategies. The Action Plan now encourages the Member States to work together: to share information, costs, results and best practices, as well as generating ideas for further areas of cooperation.

The Action Plan considers responses to the challenges of delivering growth, reducing the carbon footprint, sustainable use of the sea's natural resources, responding effectively to threats and emergencies and implementing an "ecosystem" management approach in Atlantic waters. It contains four overarching priorities:

  • Promote entrepreneurship and innovation;
  • Protect, secure and enhance the marine and coastal environment;
  • Improve accessibility and connectivity;
  • Create a socially inclusive and sustainable model of regional development;

The agreed actions will focus on growing the tourism market, meeting the increasing demand for offshore installations, improving education and training in traditional and emerging maritime industries, as well as extending cooperation in the field of oceanic research in order to better assess climate change impacts. The investment and research priorities that would be identified in the Atlantic Action Plan could be considered for EU financing in the new programming period 2014-2020.

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