A regional perspective for the future European Maritime policy
The EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions welcomes the holistic approach proposed by the European Commission to promote a European Maritime Policy. A European policy is needed in particular due to increasing globalisation, which is generating more trade and economic interactions among regions of the world. New opportunities for growth and jobs in European island, outermost and coastal regions are possible only if we replace the fragmented existing approach in this field, representing more than 40% of Europe’s GDP, with a new integrated policy which combine competitiveness, sustainability, and subsidiarity.
The EPP Group in the CoR supports the Commission’s proposals because they target the achievement of Lisbon’s goals in our coastal regions, stressing in parallel the urgent need for energy efficiency and protection of maritime environment. Moreover, they propose an approach which is respectful of the principle of subsidiarity within its governance. Through a European Maritime Policy, regional and local authorities will have a new tool for ensuring the wellbeing of people, the sustainable use of the maritime resources, the development of good governance, and increased awareness of maritime heritage. We stress that regions and local authorities are the ideal partners for both the European Commission and the Member States in achieving an efficient European Maritime Policy.
The potential of economic growth and job creation in European costal regions has to be exploited
- We propose to offer to coastal regions and their citizens similar chances for growth and jobs provided to the mainland’s regions through the development of regional airports. Similarly, Regional Ports would attract new capital to regional coasts to develop the Motorways of the Sea, Short Sea Shipping lines and infrastructures, and sustainable maritime tourism. The development of Regional Ports would enable both delocalisation and de-concentration of certain port activities towards smaller centres and would give input for better establishment of communication and transportation links with central regions.
- We call to promote maritime sectors with the greatest growth potential and the greatest impact on jobs (regional ports, shipping and shipbuilding, renewable energy production, fish farming, seaports’ hinterland connection, coastal and marine tourism). Furthermore, we call for high standards of training for workers in European ports: competitiveness of our coastal regions and ports can grow only if the provided services bring added value and high quality in the globalised market.
- We stress the need for clear identification of Motorways of the Sea. They should be supported by intermodal traffic system to become a pillar of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). The Motorways of the Sea represent a great potential, amongst other, for increasing energy efficiency being evident the link between energy savings and maritime transport.
- We encourage the formation of maritime clusters in coastal regions and networking at European level: we propose to establish a European Maritime Cluster Conference to facilitate the exchange of best practices amongst scientists and industries. Furthermore, we stress the role of research and development, training and education in ensuring the success of maritime clusters which need to be reinforced by special financing instruments.
- We propose the exchange of best practices between Member States concerning coastal and marine tourism. Close cooperation between the official tourist sector and the private one is needed. Only through coordinated actions, improvement in provided services, further development can be reached. The extension of the tourism period is essential to make coastal and marine tourism a major contributor to the whole economy and to the sustainable development of coastal and island regions in particular. We recall that there is no EU policy on tourism yet, but we propose to have an innovative approach in this important field.
Balancing economic growth, maritime transport and environment
- We propose to intensify European research funding in the field of marine sciences and technologies to deal with global challenges such as climate change, increasing risk of natural disasters in coastal regions, and conservation of maritime ecosystem.
- We support the use of renewable sources of energy such as offshore wind energy and wave energy.
- We stress the importance for regional coasts of an ecosystem-based management, built on scientific knowledge in order to preserve oceans and seas and able to face the challenge of climate change. The EU Seventh Framework Programme should take into consideration regional ecosystem agendas.
- Sustainable management of marine ecosystems is vital for activities such as fishing and leisure. Good management promotes good quality of life for citizens in island, outermost and coastal regions, and for their working conditions. We look forward to the integration of the Thematic Strategy for the Marine Environment and the Marine Strategy directive, which will establish European Marine Regions, into the European Maritime Policy.
Subsidiarity for the European Maritime Governance and protection for cultural heritage
- In the light of the principle of subsidiarity and in respect of the principle of proximity, we stress that coastal regional and local authorities have a direct stake in maritime affairs within the EU and they implement the future European Maritime Policy. Therefore we propose to make clear their direct involvement in the governance and shaping of the future legislative proposals. Regional and local authorities have important role to play in the management of ports and their links with cities in the mainland, particularly within the Integrated Coastal Zone Management.
- The protection of cultural heritage in European coastal regions is our priority and represents added value for a genuine European Union build up on its people and their traditions.
- We propose to give a chance to trans-regional cooperation by the sea for delivering integrated maritime policy at regional level. This would help to develop regional and national strategies for: Integrated Coastal Zone Management (spatial planning is required to better regulate the various uses of these areas and to exchange experience and good practices for the sustainable development of coastal regions); the setting up of a European Data Register with regional and national spatial planning data; trans-regional marine protection zones; trans-regional networks promoting existing best practices examples with regards to research networking and maritime clusters; cooperation between island and coastal regions when it comes to facing natural or man-made threats, including illegal immigration.
- We support the European Territorial Pacts’ model to reflect grassroots concerns in maritime regions. In addition, the European Grouping of Territorial Co-operation instrument could be proposed to maritime regions as new legal instrument to make it possible to reflect grassroots concerns in an efficient and direct way in particularly in managing EU funds on maritime issues.
- Finally, we suggest grouping maritime funds managed at regional level in a single financial instrument.