Maritime Affairs

Maritime spatial planning

Maritime spatial planning

Maritime spatial planning

What is it?

© Silvia Baldan

Competition for maritime space – for renewable energy equipment, aquaculture and other uses – has highlighted the need to manage our waters more coherently. Maritime spatial planning (MSP) works across borders and sectors to ensure human activities at sea take place in an efficient, safe and sustainable way. That is why the European Parliament and the Council have adopted legislation to create a common framework for maritime spatial planning in Europe.

What are the benefits of maritime spatial planning?

  • Reduce conflicts between sectors and create synergies between different activities.
  • Encourage investment – by creating predictability, transparency and clearer rules.
  • Increase cross-border cooperation – between EU countries to develop energy grids, shipping lanes, pipelines, submarine cables and other activities, but also to develop coherent networks of protected areas.
  • Protect the environment – through early identification of impact and opportunities for multiple use of space.

Where are we now?

2014: Adoption of the directive
2016: Deadline for transposition and designation of competent authorities
2021: Deadline for the establishment of maritime spatial plans

How does the EU support maritime spatial planning?

Technical support

European MSP Platform

The Assistance Mechanism for MSP was launched in 2016 to provide administrative and technical support to EU countries in implementing the MSP legislation. The project manages a website featuring information on existing MSP practices, processes and projects, a question and answer service, technical studies and a focal point service for EU countries.

Funding MSP cross-border projects

These EU-funded projects are designed to facilitate cooperation between EU countries in the management of maritime space and, since 2015,  to support the implementation of the MSP legislation.

  • Plan Bothnia - Preparatory action on maritime spatial planning in the Baltic Sea (2010-12)
  • BaltSeaPlan - Baltic Sea region programme "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)
  • SIMCELT- promoting practical cross-border cooperation between EU countries on the implementation of the maritime spatial planning directive in the Celtic Seas (2015-17)
  • Baltic SCOPE - Cross-border solutions in Baltic maritime spatial plans (2015-17)
  • MARSPLAN – MSP in the Black Sea (2015-17)
  • SIMNORAT – Atlantic Sea (2017-18)
  • SIMWESTMED – Western Mediterranean (2017-18)
  • SUPREME – Eastern Mediterranean (2017-18)


MSP worldwide

In order to learn from MSP worldwide, we have launched a study on international best practices for cross-border MSP.

The main objectives are to:

  • Establish a detailed inventory of MSP implementation in the world;
  • Explore four case studies of MSP implementation to identify best practices in relation to the requirements of Directive 2014/89/EU;
  • Prepare recommendations on the format, scope and added-value of international cooperation on MSP

Sector specific workshops

More info

Maritime Forum

Maritime affairs