Europe is surrounded by oceans and seas. The EU has some 70 000 km of coastline. Almost half of all EU citizens live within 50 km of the sea. Almost 40% of the EU’s GDP is generated in the maritime regions, and a staggering 90% of the EU’s foreign trade is conducted by sea.
To raise awareness of Europe's oceans and seas, the European Commission has developed a European Atlas of the Seas for anyone interested in the maritime world and our common maritime heritage. To find out more about the features of your maritime regions, click on the links below.
The Baltic Sea is almost completely enclosed and – except for a few areas – shallow. Its waters are renewed very slowly. Its north and northeast extremities are frozen over for part of the year, and salinity levels there are very low. Factsheet
The North Sea is semi-enclosed and shallow, except for the northern most part. Its ecosystem is becoming increasingly fragile owning to the intensity of human activity, on and off-shore. Factsheet
The Celtic Seas include the English Channel, the Irish Sea, the Celtic Sea and the waters west of the British islands.
This very windy stretch of water has long been a busy shipping area, with most merchant ships travelling east-west. Factsheet
Bay of Biscay and the Iberian coast
The Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast stretch from southern Brittany to the south of Spain. It is part of the route connecting the English Channel to the Mediterranean and Africa. The region is the cradle of Europe's maritime power. Factsheet
Though almost entirely enclosed, the Mediterranean is quite deep (average depth:1 500 m). There is little tidal variation, with amplitudes below 50 cm in most places. Factsheet
Though almost enclosed, the Black Sea is deep. With low oxygen levels, the water is an extremely vulnerable environment. Factsheet
With the exception of French Guiana, the outlying regions are islands or island groups in mid-ocean.Though small, they give the EU vast tracts of tropical and sub-tropical ocean. Factsheet
The Arctic Ocean is a vast marine area centred on the North Pole. With its adjacent seas, it borders the northern coasts of Europe, Asia and America. Factsheet