The European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) adopted on 05 November, with 32 votes in favour, 7 against, 0 abstentions, a draft report by rapporteur Gesine Meissner (ALDE, FDP, Germany) on a proposal for a directive for the establishment and implementation of maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management. This directive aims at improving the management of coastal areas and the planning of maritime activities at sea and at ensuring that these are as efficient and sustainable as possible. By coordinating the different sector activities and policies this initiative could yield potential benefits for industries like offshore-energy, aquaculture and tourism.
The directive’s specific objectives are to ensure balanced and sustainable territorial development of marine waters and coastal zones, optimised development of maritime activities and business climate, better adaptation to risks and resource efficient and integrated coastal and maritime development.
This directive follows the establishment of the Integrated Maritime Policy in 2007, as well as the Blue Growth Agenda, launched in 2012. Subsequently, in March 2013, the Commission proposed legislation to create a common framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management. While each EU country will be free to plan its own maritime activities, local, regional and national planning in shared seas would be made more compatible through a set of minimum common requirements.
The text adopted by the TRAN Committee puts emphasis, among others, on economic and social criteria, which should be at the same level as ecosystem-related criteria when it comes to supporting sustainable development and growth in the maritime sector. The adopted report also stresses the importance of compatibility with the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS), especially with regard to the definition of the geographical scope for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management strategies. Continuing on the the geographical scope, the adopted report acknowledges that coastal zones are defined by Member States in their respective national legislations. Reference to the need for land-sea connectivity and multimodal links has also been included. Finally, the adopted text aims at giving Member States more flexibility to address their particular interests and specificities when adopting maritime spatial plans and integrated coastal management strategies.
ECSA welcomes the balanced outcome of the vote.
A vote on the report is scheduled on 10 December during the European Parliament's plenary sitting in Strasbourg.