Maritime Affairs

Maritime spatial planning

Maritime spatial planning

Maritime spatial planning

1. What is it?

Finland © Lionel Flageul

It's about planning when and where human activities take place at sea – to ensure these are as efficient and sustainable as possible. Maritime spatial planning involves stakeholders in a transparent way in the planning of maritime activities.

In July 2014, the European Parliament and the Council adopted legislation to create a common framework for maritime spatial planning in Europe. While each EU country will be free to plan its own maritime activities, local, regional and national planning in shared seas would be made more compatible through a set of minimum common requirements.

2. Why does the EU need rules for maritime spatial planning?

Competition for maritime space – for renewable energy equipment, aquaculture and other growth areas – has highlighted the need for efficient management, to avoid potential conflict and create synergies between different activities.

3. What are the benefits of maritime spatial planning?

The benefits of maritime spatial planning are:

  • Reduce conflicts between sectors and create synergies between different activities.
  • Encourage investment – by instilling predictability, transparency and clearer rules. This will help boost the development of renewable energy sources and grids, establish Marine Protected Areas, and facilitate investment in oil and gas.
  • Increase coordination – between administrations in each country, through the use of a single instrument to balance the development of a range of maritime activities. This will be simpler and cheaper.
  • Increase cross-border cooperation – between EU countries, on cables, pipelines, shipping lanes, wind installations, etc.
  • Protect the environment – through early identification of impact and opportunities for multiple use of space.

Official documents

More info


  • Plan Bothnia - Preparatory Action on Maritime Spatial Planning in the Baltic Sea (2010-12)
  • BaltSeaPlan - Baltic Sea Region Programme project "Introducing Maritime Spatial Planning in the Baltic Sea" (2009–12)
  • TPEA, Transboundary Planning in the European Atlantic – Project on Maritime Spatial Planning in the Atlantic, including the Celtic Sea and Bay of Biscay (2012-14)
  • ADRIPLAN - ADRiatic Ionian maritime spatial PLANning (2013-15)
  • Baltic SCOPE - Cross-border solutions in Baltic Maritime Spatial Plans (2015-17)


Maritime Forum

Maritime affairs