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Our Oceans, Seas and Coasts

What's new ?

  • 22/07/2021: The Commission has launched a public consultation on the review of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The consultation is open until  21 October 2021. Find out more in the news release.
  • 8/4/2021: The Commission has published a roadmap for the review of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), to examine its achievements and shortcomings, explore options for improvement and propose possible amendments. Find out more in the news release.
  • 28/09/2020: Many different pressures affect the Baltic Sea: nutrient enrichment, contaminants, seabed loss and disturbance, fishing, perturbed or disrupted food-webs, marine litter, underwater noise. In the EU the Marine Strategy Framework Directive strive to address all these pressures in a holistic manner through the so-called ecosystem-based approach. Different pieces of other EU legislation in turn regulate specific pressures, such as Nitrates Directive, the Water Framework Directive, the Urban Waste Water Directive, etc.
    On September 28, at the occasion of “Our Baltic Conference”, Ministers of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment of the Baltic Sea Member States committed together in a common political declaration to boost efforts to bring the Baltic Sea to a good environmental status by reducing these key pressures. It also foresees a monitoring mechanism of these commitments at regular intervals, based on existing EU reporting schemes, with reports to be made accessible to the public. This declaration will also be helpful for developing an ambitious Baltic Sea Action Plan within the HELCOM convention by 2021.
  • 18/09/2020: EU Member States’ experts have agreed that a beach will need to have less than 20 litter items for every 100 metres of coastline. This was published in a report by the JRC. This beach litter threshold value has been developed under the Commission’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The Directive requires Member States to develop and implement strategies to protect the marine environment which among other things, will have to ensure that this value is reached an maintained.
  • 25/06/2020: The Commission adopted the Article 20 report revealing that, while the EU’s framework for marine environmental protection is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious worldwide, it needs to be beefed up to be able to tackle predominant pressures such as overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices, plastic litter, excess nutrients, underwater noise and others types of pollution. The report is accompanied by three annexes supporting the findings of the report.
  • 25/06/2020:the European Environment Agency published its “Marine Messages II” that also provide further insight on the state seas fins themselves in. See the press release.
  • 10/05/2019: As requested by Article 16 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the European Commission has assessed the programme of measures submitted by Member States. The Commission's assessment of 16 Member states programme of measures was included in the original Commission report (COM(2018) 562) and its annex (SWD(2018) 393) published in August 2018.
    The assessment of the seven Member States that could not be part of the original Commission report are now available as a second Staff Working Document (SWD(2019)510) with detailed guidance per Member State, as well as national technical reports.
  • 01/08/2018: On 31 July 2018, the Commission adopted its report assessing these programmes, identifying whether they constitute an appropriate framework within the requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and whether they address the pressures that the EU seas and oceans are facing.
  • 10/07/2018: The LIFE programme plays an important role in safeguarding the health of our seas and oceans. LIFE has co-funded some 120 projects that have mobilised some €320 million, including an EU contribution of €170 million. This brochure looks at some of those projects that aim to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

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A precious resource…

We all make use of our seas and oceans. Traditional uses (transport, fishing, tourism) now sit alongside more recent activities (mineral extraction, wind farms). The seas have enormous intrinsic value: unlike our cities, they provide us with a free horizon; we enjoy clean coastal and marine environments and the wildlife they support; and we benefit from their role in keeping our climate stable.

…under threat

But the unsustainable use of our seas threatens the fragile balance of marine ecosystems. Human activities that depend on the sea, such as fishing and tourism, suffer from damaged ecosystems and use-related competition will become increasingly serious.

What is the EU doing?

The EU Coastal and Marine Policy provides the legal impetus for the EU to protect and clean up its coasts, seas and oceans as part of an integrated strategy that will enable us to use them sustainably.

For more information


The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in the light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.