The European institutions (Council, Parliament and Commission) consider maritime spatial planning as an important tool for the development of an integrated maritime policy in Europe. With its announcement “Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning: Achieving Common Principles in the EU??, the European Commission issued the first outline for a Community approach of the MSP (MSP-001).
The roadmap simplifies the development of the spatial structure of the sea and coastal zones. Moreover, it is one of the tools for the implementation of the European Integrated Maritime Policy, according to the Commission. Spatial arrangement on the sea may contribute to the preparation of coastal zones for the consequences of climate change, such as the rising of the sea level, floods, changing marine ecosystems and investments in the coastal protection. The Commission indicates that 22 out of 27 Member States located at the seaside have a coastline length of roughly 70,000 kilometres. In addition, approximately 40% of EU citizens live in coastal zones.
On 17 December 2010, the European Commission issued the report “Maritime spatial planning in the EU-achievements and future development?? (MSP-002). Its conclusion clearly points to the need for further action at EU level if Europe wants to achieve a coherent framework for Maritime Spatial Planning. In view of this, the Commission enquired the impact of different possibilities for the extension of the maritime spatial arrangement and the planning of the coastal zones. The results were presented in 2011. By combining maritime and related activities of various sectors into a single planning framework, the MSP may prevent conflicts, maximize synergy as well as guarantee an efficient and sustainable use of the scarce maritime place.
On 22 March 2011, the European Commission started an online consultation in order to collect background information for a future policy for MSP and Integral Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). The Commission alludes to a European Directive that helps the co-operation between Member States. A proposal for an MSP Directive has been introduced in the working-plan 2012 of the European Commission. The impact assessment has been completed and its outcomes are currently subject to internal review, while the Commission intention remains to come up with a common regulatory instrument for both MSP and ICZM. DG MARE and DG Environment work closely together in view of formulating their proposals by the end of 2012.
In the meantime, the Commission initiative on MSP and ICZM is referred to as one of the building blocks for a successful blue economy within the Communication on “Blue Growth - opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth?? that was published in September 2012. Blue growth is defined by the Commission as an initiative to harness the untapped potential of Europe's oceans, seas and coasts for jobs and growth.
Some relevant documents:
MSP-002: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Maritime Spatial Planning in the EU – Achievements and future development (European Commission)
MSP-001: Communication from the Commission. Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning: Achieving Common Principles in the EU (European Commission)