Call for cooperation on Europe's seas

Managing Europe's seas to benefit all sectors of the maritime economy requires more coordination on offshore projects, ship dismantling and marine-related research, EU maritime commissioner Joe Borg has said.

Speaking at a Paris conference on the maritime economy, he gave an update on the on-going EU maritime policy consultation, opened last June with the launch of the Green Paper on the issue.

"It is clear that there are some things that would be well-served by having a common vision or a single approach at an EU level," given that the seas "take no account of national boundaries," and the Commission is starting to get a clearer picture of what these should be, Joe Borg said.

Marine-related research is one area where more information-sharing and better contacts between researchers would benefit all parties and prevent them from doubling-up efforts.

Ship dismantling is another problem needing a pan-European solution, he said: "This case [of ship dismantling] is particularly indicative once again of the inter-relationships that exist between, for example, the marine environment, working conditions and the shipping sector in general. It illustrates again the need for an integrated approach."

The commissioner also called for regulation to promote quality of life in coastal areas and in particular a European marine planning framework to give investors in maritime industries more confidence about the future.

"As maritime activities continue to thrive, there will be increasing competition between these various activities for the use of coastal waters.

"The Commission therefore believes that a system of spatial planning for maritime activities in the waters under the jurisdiction of the Member States should be created," he said.

The consultation on the Maritime Green Paper runs until 30 June 2007.

Goska Romanowicz



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