Blue Economy is growing: we are relying more and more on maritime transport for our external trade. By 2020, offshore wind energy is expected to grow by 30%. Experts foresee a tenfold growth of tidal and wave energy. Cruise tourism has tripled during the last decade.
And today, together with Commissioner Potočnik, we put on the table a proposal for a Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management. We want to make sure that we provide optimal conditions for the sustainable development of new businesses at seas and that we leave space for existing sectors – while preserving the environment. How?
First, we ask Member states to map the most efficient use of their seas in maritime spatial plans, and develop coastal management strategies. This will give certainty of what development is possible and where to economic operators.
Second, we are also proposing today that Member States should cooperate with each other. The cross-border nature of the Blue Economy is obvious. For instance, thanks to the EU funded MASPNOSE project (Maritime Spatial Planning in the North Sea), Belgium and the Netherlands were able to accommodate a new offshore wind concession zone on the Thornton bank with the existing shipping routes and designate an area for nature conservation in synergy with offshore energy production. Maritime spatial planning created a basis for a better common understanding and resulted in both economic and environmental benefits. This is why Maritime Spatial Planning throughout Europe should be based on common shared requirements.
Third, by applying a “one stop shop” approach, the new rules will lead to simplification and costs-savings for the administration, as well as for investors. Currently, in some countries one needs to contact up to eight administrative agencies before having the permit for an aquaculture site! With the Directive in place, such administrative complexity will be done away with.
We estimate that this could lead to economic benefits up to €1,6 billion across the EU, particularly for SME’s. Studies have also shown that, for example, the acceleration of investments in wind-farm and aqua-farm activity would generate by 2020, up to €600 million for an acceleration of investments by 3 years.
Today’s proposal shows how the Integrated Maritime Policy favours the sustainable development of coastal areas and contributes to unleash the potential of EU marine and maritime economy.