Islands and coasts high on the EU maritime agenda

21 March 2012 | News story

The European Commission has just adopted its programme on an Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP). The programme proposes 20 actions for a total amount of 40 million euros to support the sustainable use of the seas and oceans, and the expansion of scientific knowledge, recognizing the role of the coastal, insular and outermost regions of the EU.

All actions correspond to the EU targets and policies for 2020 and 2050 and reflect the political priorities for the IMP expressed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU and aims for sustainable decision-making in relation to the oceans, seas, coastal, insular and outermost regions and in the maritime sectors of the EU. The IMP is designed to foster coordinated decision-making through coherent maritime-related policies and relevant international cooperation. 

The Council of the EU has recently reiterated the need to take into account the role and the importance of the EU outermost regions (ORs) and interested associated overseas countries and territories (OCTs) in the development and implementation of IMP. The Council encouraged the European Commission and EU Member States to develop initiatives aimed at reinforcing the integration of maritime policies in ORs and interested OCTs. It also invited the EC to study how the ORs can contribute to the EU's "Blue Growth" initiative. 

In total, there are 8 ORs (mostly islands), that are fully part of the EU, belong to 3 EU Member States (France, Portugal, Spain) and are located outside the European continent - Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint-Martin in the Caribbean, French Guiana in the Amazon Region, Reunion Island in Indian Ocean, as well as the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira in the North Atlantic. Together with the 26 OCTs, that are islands associated with 4 EU Member States (Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom), they comprise a combined Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of more than 15 million km2, the largest in the world.