The coastline of the European Union (EU) extends for over 68,000 km, three times that of the United States, and the combined area of the EEZ of the EU is About 25 million square kilometres, the largest EEZ in the world. Nearly half the population of the Union live less than 50 km from the sea and these maritime regions generate more than 40% of Europe’s GDP. According to the “Blue Growth” report published in 2012, the maritime economy of the European Union accounts for 5.4 million jobs (7 million by 2020) and gross value added of nearly € 500 billion per year. These figures however are provisional. 75% of the EU’s external trade and more than 37% of its domestic trade is transported by sea; this makes Europe very much a seaward facing continent.
Policies implemented for a maritime Europe
Maritime policy and sector policies
The Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) introduced in 2007 was designed to boost the sustainable development of the European maritime economy by facilitating multi-sector cooperation and coordination among all maritime stakeholders. In this it is aided by the Blue Growth report which identifies the growth levers of the European maritime sector and serves as a tool for achieving the objectives identified in the Europe 2020 strategy for intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth. The Blue Growth report has also identified sectors of traditional activities and new sectors which will act as genuine growth levers: aquaculture, biotechnologies, MRE, deep sea mining and coastal tourism. The ultimate objective is to achieve European leadership in blue growth.
This IMP is also underpinned by two important directives designed to give more protection to the marine environment (“Strategy for the Marine Environment” Framework Directive) and to organise the expanding range of marine activities (“Strategic Maritime Spatial Planning” Directive).
A number of sector policies also include a significant maritime dimension, such as the reworked Trans-European Transport Network
(TEN-T) for creating within the European Union effective transport corridors linking the seaboards and ports with the European hinterland. This policy is designed to develop both the port infrastructures and the inland infrastructures (river and canal, rail and road), acknowledging the key role of intra- European shortsea shipping which accounts for 70% of sea transport in Europe.
The future of the IMP and the maritime economy depends on a number of institutional and private stakeholders, and on the need for harmony among all of these activities.
A maritime Europe of mobilised stakeholders
The institutional stakeholders
European maritime policy is built around the interaction of numerous institutional stakeholders, primarily the European Commission, along with the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG Mare), and also other Commissioners and DG. Alongside these, the European Parliament, already acknowledged with the Fisheries Commission, intends to play a decisive role in implementing maritime policy and acknowledging Blue Growth with the creation of the parliamentary intergroup "Seas, rivers, islands and coastal areas". Made up of 83 MEPs, this Intergroup meets regularly to deal specifically and transversally with all subjects of special interest to its members. Its secretariat is provided by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR). The CPMR is a public entity independent of the community institutions, which permits the formulation of a strong European regional policy covering all regions of Europe, the implementation of an integrated maritime policy more likely to boost European economic growth, and allows account to be taken of the needs and interests of the PMRs in all policies with a significant territorial impact.
The private stakeholders
Although Maritime Europe is shaped mainly by public stakeholders, private stakeholders are also involved and through their cooperation and actions help to assert the role and place of blue growth in the European economy.
The European Network of Maritime Clusters (ENMC) aims to be a common European voice for the seventeen national clusters which together represent all aspects of the European maritime economy. Its two main objectives are: an analysis of the figures of this economy, and supporting the efforts of the European Institutions to create a European Maritime Cluster capable of influencing the decisions and policies of the sector in Brussels.
In addition, numerous federations are working to defend the interests of the stakeholders of their sector, chief among which is Sea Europe. Created by the merger between the European Association of Shipyards and the Association of European Equipment Manufacturers, this federation is structured around key issues for shipbuilding, notably research, innovation, training and finance. The ECSA (European Community Shipowners’ Association) for its part is formed of 25 associations of shipowners from EU member countries, and defends the interests of European shipowners in the context of the social sectoral dialogue. The ESPO (European Sea Ports Organisation) is a grouping of all management and administrative authorities of European sea ports (around 800 ports), and represents them in institutions and protects the interests of European port authorities while encouraging their proactive engagement.
Projects for the future
Coordination among all of these stakeholders is more effective within the framework of projects and initiatives for creating a more dynamic maritime Europe, mainly with the benefit of European finance. Apart from the Structural Funds, the “Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development”, also called simply the "Framework Programmes" (FP), fund research and innovation aimed at maintaining the competitiveness of European industry. The 8th programme Horizon 2020 launched in 2014 replaced the previous FP7 and provides support for the different sectors, especially the maritime sectors, using its budget of € 79 billion.
In concert with these institutional measures, European maritime companies and industries have launched various initiatives. Leading the way is the LeaderSHIP 2020 strategy, adopted in 2013, which makes short and medium term recommendations for sustainable growth and high quality jobs, while tackling the social issues encountered in shipbuilding and the shipping industry. In second place is the role of the technology platform WaterBorne-TP, a forum for all stakeholders of the maritime sector. Its objective is to define and share a common vision of the maritime world through implementation of an agenda of strategic research to drive the maritime innovation effort necessary for the European economy.
Of a more institutional nature, the JPI Oceans (Joint Programming Initiative) is a joint initiative on the oceans involving 20 member States and partners who, through a Strategic Agenda of Research and Innovation and an implementation plan, generate investments in the marine sciences covering all European sea basins.
This initiative is due to be reinforced by a KIC Marine (Knowledge and Innovation Community) under the supervision of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology which European stakeholders have been campaigning for since 2010. The long-term objective will be the availability of reliable high-quality information to enable the creation of a complete database financed by European public investment.
These projects and initiatives – the list is not exhaustive – are a sign of the vitality of maritime Europe and are supplemented by the numerous collaborative projects between industries, laboratories, clusters and research platforms in the maritime sectors, especially MRE and the marine biotechnologies. France has sufficient advantages to place it in the lead in this movement, as are many member entities of the CMF heavily involved and active in Blue Growth.