What the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is

The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) was put in place to protect the marine ecosystem and biodiversity upon which our health and marine-related economic and social activities depend.

To help EU countries achieve a good environmental status (GES), the directive sets out 11 illustrative qualitative descriptors.

The joint communication on international ocean governance proposes concrete measures at international level, for example to address environmental, fisheries and climate issues.

Research efforts are needed to better define the descriptors to achieve GES.

MSFD legal text

Read more about MSFD

EU funded research contribution

Under the Oceans of Tomorrow initiative under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the Commission explicitly published calls to support the implementation of the MSFD.

In the 2012 call for proposals (10 projects were selected for an EU contribution of almost €44 million), the focus was on research gaps in the definition and monitoring of the GES of EU waters to be achieved by 2020.

Furthermore, projects relevant to GES and secure food supply will contribute to several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, notably SDG 14 (targets1, 2, 4 and 7) and SDG 2 (targets 1, 2 and 4).

Project examples

FP7 project DEVOTES provided recommendations for implementation of the EU MSFD all over Europe for the descriptors related to biodiversity; and project STAGES (also FP7) reviewed the existing knowledge on all 11 descriptors, identified knowledge gaps and proposed a roadmap for the science-policy interface.

In addition, climate-related marine research was addressed by several projects: MEDSEA, VECTORS and MEECE . These covered issues such as the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems and human activities in the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.