The Commission will kick-start a public debate in May with a ‘Green paper’ proposing a comprehensive approach to issues as diverse as fisheries, shipbuilding, tourism, energy, environmental protection and maritime safety.
EU Fisheries commissioner Joe Borg is expected to present early in May a ‘Green paper’ outlining the Commission’s ideas for an all-embracing EU maritime policy.
The paper’s chief ambition is to gather under a single heading sectors which at the moment were treated separately: fisheries, shipbuilding, port activities, tourism, coastal management, environmental protection and maritime safety to name just a few.
A primary goal of the strategy will be to secure EU “economic leadership in maritime activities”, an objective under which the Commission will stress the “importance of the oceans as a resource base for European income and welfare”. Depletion of fish stocks is a source of continued concern as EU countries fail to agree on cutting fishing quotas to levels sufficiently low to replenish stocks.
However, the Commission’s environmental resolve on maritime policy issues came under criticism last year when it unveiled a ‘Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment’ (EURACTIV, 26 Oct. 2005).
Other proposals in the paper include existing ideas to develop motorways of the sea, address potential terrorist threats in ports and seize economic opportunities including “energy from the seas”.