The Integrated Maritime Policy (see section 5) is fully aligned with, and supportive of, other EU policies including: the development of a knowledge economy (Lisbon) and sustainable development principles (Gothenburg). The latter was elaborated in the European Marine Strategy, which is anchored in the Marine Strategy Framework. This Marine Strategy forms the environmental basis of the European Marine Policy.
On 17 July 2006, the European Commission introduced a proposal for a Directive from the European Parliament and the Council to establish a framework for community measures as concerns the policy in regard to the Marine environment (MSF-001)).
The MSF obliges Member States to develop and implement maritime strategies. The goal is to achieve and maintain good environmental conditions for all European bordered seas by 2020 at the latest. The MSF has the following goals:
- Taking care of the protection and the maintenance of the marine environment,
- Preventing deterioration,
- Improving damaged ecosystem.
The MSF divides European seas in marine regions and subregions. The development of strategies for the marine environment takes place in different phases. By 2015, a series of measures should be developed so as to be applicable in 2016. By 2020, the measures should result in a good state for the marine environment. Member States from the same marine region have to collaborate in order to have coherence and coordination in their marine strategies. Besides, they should take care of synchronising with non Member States which are in the same marine region, especially for regional maritime agreements.
Maritime strategies are based on the protection and preservation of the ecosystem and on the management of human activities having an impact on the marine environment.
It is essential to have a certain flexibility to reduce the costs when there are no large risks for the marine environment. Member States are not obliged to follow special measures if there is no specific risk for the environment or if these measures are not in line with the risk. Member States ought to prove that the marine environment would not be further damaged and to prevent constant threat for the environment.
After the completion of the second reading by the European Parliament, the Council agreed on MSF on 14 May 2008. This provides Member States with a framework which enables them to undertake every useful measure in order to achieve and maintain a good state by 2020 at the latest. Therefore, Member States should develop and implement maritime strategies oriented towards the three above-mentioned goals. Step by step, marine pollution should thus be diminished so that there is no risk anymore for the sea biodiversity, the marine ecosystem, public health and the normal use of the sea.
Since the approval of the MSF, its implementation is proceeding well not only at European level, but also at member states level. On 1 September 2010, the European Commission introduced criteria according to which the environmental state will be determined and which will determine the state in 2020. The Commission believes that the environmental state of the sea should be assessed on the basis of biological diversity, fish population, eutrophication, contaminants, waste and noise. These criteria have been chosen on the basis of current scientific knowledge and they can be adapted in function of new scientific insights.
Some relevant documents:
MSF-001: Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive) (European Parliament and the Council)