Today the European Commission launched a proposal to improve the planning of maritime activities at sea and the management of coastal areas.
The proposal – which takes the form of a draft directive – aims to establish a common European framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management in EU Member States. This should ensure that the growth of maritime and coastal activities and the use of resources at sea and on coasts remain sustainable.
Human and economic activities such as offshore wind energy, submarine cable and pipeline routes, shipping, fishing and aquaculture are increasing in marine waters and coastal areas. The Commission finds that too little coordination can lead to competition for space and pressure on valuable resources. 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.
The coherent application of maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management should improve coordination between land- and sea-based activities. 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.
Using a single instrument to balance all interests should also increase certainty for investors and reduce the administrative burden for national administrations and operators, while preserving ecosystem services. The Commission proposal will now be considered by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. Once adopted, the new initiative will become EU law.