“Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World,” said Christopher Columbus. With Malta at the helm, Europe’s trade winds have caught the sails of a new generation. As Malta passes the EU Presidency baton to Estonia, Europe has charted a new route to a New World, and Europe’s maritime policy is now pursuing the bright horizon of the Blue Economy.
Blue Growth is Europe’s long-term strategy to support sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors. The Maltese Presidency has presented the seas as drivers of the European economy and a reservoir of potential innovation and growth.
As part of Europe’s 2020 strategy, Malta pursued smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The ‘blue’ economy represents about 5.4 million jobs and generates a gross added value of almost €500 billion a year.
With 40% of the EU population living in coastal regions, Blue Growth can have an immediate tangible impact on many EU citizens. And coastal regions often generate higher GDP per inhabitant than non-coastal regions.
The Maltese Presidency has been advancing a diverse spectrum of innovative research and commercial activities that can be translated into high value-added job opportunities.
Malta has also been earnest about International Ocean Governance, with the aim of ensuring a more coherent, comprehensive and effective EU policy to improve the governance and sustainability of our oceans.
Market & Environment
Blue Growth clearly offers big opportunities for businesses, including SMEs, to deliver products and services; but is there a downside risk associated with exploiting the sea’s natural resources?
Maritime transport is a big polluter and Europe’s coastal security is continually challenged; so, what role does digital innovation play in environmentally sustainable seas and critically secure coastlines?
Europe’s fish stocks have faced dark days, overfishing has risked exhausting many species. To combat the risk of overexploitation, the Maltese Presidency has advanced the protection of Europe’s fish supply, a key source of protein across the Continent.
Member States have recognised that when it comes to the sea, Europe cannot risk replicating environmental mistakes made on land. Maritime governance has therefore been at the front of Malta’s maritime agenda. Integrated maritime cooperation and regulation has been developed to ensure that the EU is now the leader in global maritime governance.
Jobs and Growth
The blue economy strategy is also about job creation. The key to this policy is training. Europe’s marine industry needs a new generation of skilled employees. It’s an interdisciplinary approach demanding investment and innovation.
Columbus said: “By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” At the close of the Maltese Presidency, many obstacles and distractions have been overcome. But one thing is certain: Malta has set a clear course and has guided Europe towards a safe harbour.
Marisa Matias, MEP, United Left
Linnéa Engström, MEP, Greens
Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, MEP, Liberals
Claudia Monteiro De Aguiar, MEP, Centre-Right
Ricardo Serrão Santos, MEP, Social Democrats
David Kerr, Maritime Attaché, Permanent Representation of Malta to the European Union
That’s all for this series on the Maltese Presidency. To catch up on the key policy priorities enacted in the last six months, see The Presidency playlist. Thanks for watching.
The Presidency is a video series by EURACTIV.com, looking at the priorities of the Council Presidency.
The Presidency is supported by the Maltese Presidency.