Maritime Affairs

Atlantic strategy

Atlantic strategy

Atlantic strategy

Bay of Biscay and the Celtic Sea

The Commission adopted an Atlantic maritime strategy in 2011 in response to repeated calls from stakeholders for more ambitious, open and effective cooperation in the Atlantic Ocean area. The strategy identified the challenges and opportunities facing the region, grouping them under five thematic headings:

  • implementing the ecosystem approach
  • reducing Europe’s carbon footprint
  • sustainable exploration of the natural resources on the sea floor
  • responding to threats and emergencies
  • socially inclusive growth

Following a bottom-up consultation in the five Member States with Atlantic coasts (Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Portugal), an action plan was developed that set out practical steps to be taken in these areas. The Atlantic action plan was adopted in May 2013. To support the implementation of the plan, the Commission launched the Atlantic assistance mechanism.

Promoting cooperation

The Action Plan encourages Member States to work together in areas where they were previously working individually. They will now be able to share information, costs, results and best practices, as well as generate ideas for further areas of cooperation of maritime activities. This includes both traditional activities, such as fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and shipping, as well as emerging ones such as offshore renewables and marine biotech.

Action plan priorities

The action plan considers responses to the challenges of delivering growth, reducing the carbon footprint, using the sea's natural resources sustainably, responding effectively to threats and emergencies and implementing an "ecosystem" management approach in Atlantic waters. The priorities are to:

  • promote entrepreneurship and innovation
  • protect, secure and enhance the marine and coastal environment
  • improve accessibility and connectivity
  • create a socially inclusive and sustainable model of regional development

The action plan also aims to give fresh impetus to the cooperation with other Atlantic nations, such as the United States and Canada, to better understand the dynamic of the ocean. As a result, by 2018 some 20 projects involving 320 international research teams have evolved, including trans-Atlantic neighbours as well, thanks to the Galway statement and the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, the US and Canada.

Mid-term review of the action plan

By 2017, the action plan has spurred over 1200 new maritime projects and nearly 6 billion euro of investments so far, according to an independent consultant tasked by the EU to take stock of the initiative at mid-term. Most of the projects target environmental protection and innovation, as well as improved connectivity and social inclusion (press release). However, the mid-term review showed that the plan could perform even better. The Commission is currently discussing avenues to improve the plan with the Member States and coastal regions.

Related actions

The success of the Galway Statement (see above) led to cooperation in the South Atlantic, notably with Brazil and South Africa, which culminated in the signing of the Belém Statement on Atlantic Research and Innovation Cooperation in July 2017 (see press release) and the launching of the European Union-Brazil-South Africa Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Cooperation. The Galway and Belém Statements address the challenges put forward in the Atlantic strategy and have been acknowledged as major achievements of the Atlantic strategy and its action plan.

Atlantic process 2017

Atlantic stakeholder platform conference, Glasgow, 8 November 2017

Atlantic process 2016

Atlantic stakeholder platform conference, Dublin, 27 September 2016

"Seas in Motion - Activating the Atlantic Action Plan" European Parliament, Brussels, 14 June 2016

"The Atlantic Strategy in Action" event, Brussels, 8th June 2016

Atlantic process 2015

Atlantic stakeholder platform conference, 29 October 2015, Brest

Atlantic workshops 2015

Atlantic process 2014

Atlantic stakeholder platform, 20 January 2015, Porto

Atlantic workshops 2014

Key actors 2014-2015

Atlantic forum 2012-2013

Funding, timeline and key actors

Atlantic Forum workshops 2012-2013

Public call for suggestions for key investment and research priorities (closed)

More info