The Commission presented a proposal to improve sustainable management of marine and coastal areas

The European Commission presented a project of Directive aimed at establishing a common European framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management in EU Member States, with a view to ensuring that the growth of maritime and coastal activities and the use of resources at sea and on coasts remain sustainable.

The European Commission presented a proposal to improve the planning of maritime activities at sea and the management of coastal areas. According to the Commission, the coherent application of maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management should improve coordination between land- and sea-based activities. In October 2012, a new European agenda for creating growth and jobs in the marine and maritime sectors was launched. Better coordination would bring benefits in areas such as, for example, the connection of offshore wind installations to energy grids on land, or work on infrastructure to protect coastlines against erosion and climate change that also affects activities in coastal waters.

In addition, the European institution considers that the proposal helps to ensure that economic activities factor in the protection of natural resources at an early stage, as well as risks related to climate change and natural hazards to which coastal areas are extremely vulnerable. This has economic benefits as natural resources are an essential basis for activities such as fishing and aquaculture, which rely on clean seas. These new tools will also help improve the implementation of EU environment legislation such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive.

The proposed action will require member states to map these activities in maritime spatial plans in order to make more efficient use of seas, and develop coastal management strategies that will coordinate measures across the different policy areas that apply to activities in coastal zones. Respecting the minimum requirements proposed by the Directive, member states will need to ensure that their maritime planning and coastal management supports sustainable growth, while involving relevant stakeholders and cooperating with neighbouring states.