Marine spatial planning in Europe

Marine spatial planning is on the rise. Both policymakers and researches focus increasingly on the subject. The outlines for future policy options are currently drafted at the European level. Project developers are not lagging behind and present their first initiatives.

In 2007, the European Commission defined its future marine policy in the Integrated Marine Policy for the European Union. The common principles for this policy are listed in the Roadmap for Marine spatial Planning: Achieving Common Principles in the EU. The European approach aims to manage marine activities in an ecosystem-oriented way. It also tries to determine guidelines in Guidelines for an integrated approach to marine policy. Furthermore, the European Commission launches a work programme with workshops and pilot projects.

Encouraged by the EU climate plan Towards 20-20 in 2020, among others, each sector is looking for a coherent future vision for fisheries, agriculture, port policy, international law, mobility, tourism, natural resources and extraction, nature and the environment, culture, etc.

A number of European countries are actually seeking to implement spatial planning at sea, with a focus on an ecosystem-oriented approach. Among these are Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany.

In 2011, the European Commission launched an impact assessment to look into the various options for the promotion and development of MSP and ICZM. The results of that survey are to be presented by the end of 2011.

The EU cofinances two test projects on MSP in the Baltic Sea and in the north-eastern Atlantic. Each project brings together authorities from different member states and the goal is to gain practical experience in the implementation of a cross-border spatial planning at sea. These projects were initiated late November / early December of 2010 and will run for 18 months.

The MASPNOSE project tackles marine spatial planning in the north-eastern Atlantic and unites partners from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark

The ‘Plan Bothnia’ project looks into marine spatial planning in the Baltic Sea. Experts from Finland, Sweden and Latvia are participating in the project.