The European Commission has expressed significant reservations about Member States’ achievements to date in implementing the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.  The Commission’s recent analysis of the first phase of MSFD implementation shows that much more progress needs to be made to “avoid an insufficient, inefficient, piecemeal and unnecessarily costly approach to the protection of the marine environment”.  Their Article 12 report further highlights that Member States have taken different approaches to reporting: comparability between Member States is low, making coordinated action and analysis difficult.

The Commission concludes that it will therefore “be challenging not only to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020, but even to know how far we are from meeting the objective.”

The Marine Directive aims to achieve Good Environmental Status of the EU’s marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. The Directive enshrines in a legislative framework the ecosystem approach to the management of human activities having an impact on the marine environment, integrating the concepts of environmental protection and sustainable use. In order to achieve GES by 2020, each Member State is required to develop a strategy for its marine waters (or Marine Strategy). Because the Directive follows an adaptive management approach, the Marine Strategies must be kept up-to-date and reviewed every 6 years.

For the first time, Member States have now reported under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive on the state of the environment in their marine waters, on what they consider as being a “good environmental status” and on the objectives and targets they have set themselves to reach it by 2020 (articles 8, 9 and 10 of the MSFD). The result shows that more efforts are urgently needed if the EU is to reach its goal.

The findings of the report, and the way forward, will be discussed in Brussels on March 3-4 at the HOPE (“Healthy Oceans- Productive Ecosytems”) conference. It will gather governments, NGOs, academia and other stakeholders working with or in relation to the European marine environment. Click here for further  information

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