Various Documents considered by the Committee - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

4 Maritime policy



+ ADD 1

COM (10) 494

Draft Regulation establishing a programme to support the further development of an integrated maritime policy

Legal baseArticles 43(2), 74, 77(20, 91(1), 100(2), 173(30, 175, 188, 192(1), 194(2) and 195(2) TFEU; co-decision; QMV
Document originated29 September 2010
Deposited in Parliament4 October 2010
Basis of considerationEM of 28 October 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; further information requested


4.1 A Commission Communication on the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) and its accompanying action plan[6] were endorsed by the Council in late 2007. A progress report on the IMP, which documented actions taken and indicated future actions, [7] was endorsed by the Council in November 2009. In considering that report the Council invited the Commission to present proposals for the financing of IMP actions, "within the existing Financial Perspective", with a view to their entering into force by 2011.

The document

4.2 This draft Regulation responds to the Council's call for a funding proposal. It would establish financial underpinning of €50 million (£43 million) to fund a programme of work to support the further development of the IMP. It is a request for additional funding from within the existing Financial Perspective up to 2013. The Commission says that further development of the IMP is at risk without this funding, because there is currently no budgetary provision to support the work for the period 2011-2013. It seeks what it describes as "modest financial underpinning" to pursue its planned programme of work, building on earlier preparatory activities and pilot projects.

4.3 The proposal is supported by an accompanying Commission Staff Working Document entitled Ex-Ante Evaluation for establishing a Programme to support further development towards an Integrated Maritime Programme. This evaluation considers three options:

  • Option 1: a "do nothing" approach;
  • Option 2: a "modest", that is €50 million (£43 million) increase in funding to support development of the IMP; and
  • Option 3: a "fully fledged financing" approach.

In the evaluation the Commission:

  • rules out the first option because it would mean that it could not pursue the policy objectives of the IMP endorsed by the Council in 2009;
  • discounts the third option because it considers that options for practical actions are insufficiently developed at this stage (so there is relatively little on which large sums of money could be spent and to do so on untested approaches would be unwise) and because, in any case, it currently has insufficient human resources to manage a large scale approach; and
  • concludes, therefore, that the second option, a limited request for funding for specific itemised activities, is the best approach.

4.4 Building on the Council Conclusions, the Commission lists seven operational objectives which the funding would support, which are itemised in the Legislative Financial Statement appended to the draft Regulation:

  • integrated maritime governance — this would entail further development of integrated government and EU approaches in Member States and towards coastal regions. Specific activities would be promotional events and workshops, €1.3 million (£1.1 million), and development of cross-sectoral communication tools on maritime affairs, namely an internet maritime forum and a secretariat for a "stakeholders' network" for the exchange of ideas and best practice, €1.2 million (£1 million). Total cost: €2.5 million (£2.15 million);
  • activities regarding sea basins — this would entail expeditious implementation of "integrated sea basin strategies around Europe tailored to the needs of each maritime region". There would be a two-phase study project on integrated governance in the Mediterranean region, the first phase in 2011 and the second in 2013, a test project between the phases to develop cooperation between Member States, either between themselves or with Mediterranean third countries, a programme of workshops with a Mediterranean focus and a Mediterranean governance forum states would be established, €3.2 million (£2.75 million). Studies on similar regional strategies in respect of the Atlantic, Arctic and Outermost Regions of the EU are also envisaged and plus studies and a "stakeholder platform" for the Baltic, €1.4 million (£1.2 million). Total cost: €4.6 million (£3.96 million);
  • cross-cutting tools for integrated policy making — this would include work to further development and implementation of cross-cutting tools, such as the integration of maritime surveillance by means of a Common Information Sharing Environment, including various studies and projects costing €4 million (£3.44 million), Maritime Spatial Planning, €5.25 million (£4.5 million), Integrated Coastal Zone Management, €1.25m (£1.1million) and a European Marine Observation and Data Network, €22.5 million (£19.35 million). Total cost: €33 million (£28.4 million);
  • promotion of the international dimension of the IMP — this would entail the promotion of enhanced cooperation with appropriate third countries and international bodies to ensure coherence between IMP activities and those developed on a sectoral basis, using seminars, workshops and other meetings and events. Total cost: €0.6 million (£0.5 million);
  • further defining the boundaries of sustainability of maritime activities that affect the environment through the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, with an emphasis on an ecosystem approach — this is to enable the Commission to play a proactive role in supporting the implementation of the Directive. Specific activities which would be funded are the further development of methodological standards on good environmental status, provision of a platform for regional seas conventions to help ensure a coordinated approach to implementation of the Directive, studies on the impact and monitoring of marine litter and support for any pilot projects taken forward under the Directive. This would entail coordination between the various maritime areas of the EU in implementing an ecosystem-based approach through a permanent co-ordination platform and regular workshops, the development of methodological standards on environmental status for the seas under the Directive and various studies and projects on marine environmental problems. Total cost: €5.1 million (£4.4 million);
  • a renewed focus on sustainable economic growth, employment and innovation — this would entail various studies, events or workshops covering clean shipping in the Baltic, maritime employment and education and the development of measures at EU level to stimulate growth and employment in the maritime economy. Total cost: €1.5 million (£1.3 million); and
  • raising the visibility of maritime EU — this would entail promotion and facilitation of information and best practice by means of information technology opportunities afforded by the EU's "European Atlas of the Seas" database. Total cost: €2.3 million (£1.98 million).

The overall cost of the seven operational objectives would be: €49.6 million (£42.66 million).

4.5 Technical and procedural provisions in the draft Regulation cover:

  • financial assistance in the form of grants and public procurement contracts;
  • selection of beneficiaries of grants or public procurement contracts following calls for proposals or tenders, except as otherwise provided in Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002;
  • setting out details of grants and public procurements in annual work programmes; and
  • monitoring, control, audit and evaluation of activities funded by the Regulation.

The Government's view

4.6 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Mike Penning) says first that the Commission claims the proposal has due regard to the principles of subsidiarity, because the objectives of the proposed Regulation to facilitate integrated maritime policy are appropriate to action at EU level. However, the Government remains unconvinced that all aspects of activity which would be supported by this funding Regulation meet the subsidiarity criteria.

4.7 The Minister then comments that:

  • although the Commission seeks additional funding to carry out the wishes expressed by the Council in November 2009, this contradicts the UK's position on additional EU budget spending and the its call for an EU budget freeze in 2011; and
  • the Government is taking a similarly tough line on EU budget levels in 2012 and 2013, so will therefore work with like-minded Member States to push for this funding to be met through the reprioritisation of existing resources.

4.8 In further comment the Minister says that:

  • the Government could support some of the operational objectives envisaged by the Commission;
  • in the broadest sense, where there is demonstrable added value in activity at EU level to improve governance, cooperation with third parties, activities to stimulate growth or to benefit the environment, and where funds are available, then some degree of EU coordination may be beneficial;
  • some of the activities envisaged require, however, further explanation and justification — for example, in respect of activities surrounding sea basins, no strong case has yet been made to develop an EU-led regional strategy for the Atlantic;
  • the Government would support, with regard to the third operational objective, on cross-cutting tools for integrated policy-making, sharing best practice on Maritime Spatial Planning;
  • it would also welcome the inclusion of Integrated Coastal Zone Management alongside Maritime Spatial Planning;
  • there are, however, concerns over some of the specific objectives itemised in the proposal and the accompanying Staff Working Document;
  • for example, there is a strong implication that marine plans could be developed covering marine areas of more than one Member State — the Government would not wish to support this;
  • Member States are all at differing stages of marine planning and this would not be a practical approach for the UK — there are already procedures in place by which the UK may consult other Member States if a marine plan borders them, so it is difficult to see added benefit arising from the proposed approach;
  • the Government broadly supports, under the third objective, on marine data and knowledge, further development of the prototype European Marine Observation and Data Network — relevant to this is a recent Commission Communication Marine Knowledge 2020: marine data and observation for smart sustainable growth;[8]
  • under the fifth operational objective, on defining the boundaries of maritime activities through the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, all the itemised activities would support the consistent implementation of the Directive across the EU;
  • these activities have been discussed with Member States at regular Marine Directors' meetings held by the Commission and the Presidency;
  • the Government's policy on implementation of the Directive has been that the Commission should take a "light touch" approach to coordinating the implementation of the Directive at EU level, leaving the detailed decision making to Member States in the context of the Regional Seas Conventions;[9]
  • some level of EU coordination is necessary, however, if only to share best practice and to make sure that implementation is broadly consistent across marine regions, ensuring the maintenance of a level playing field for marine businesses operating across EU waters; and
  • the activities described by the Commission in this part of the proposed Regulation are in line with the "light touch" approach to EU level coordination supported by the UK.

4.9 The Minister tells us that:

  • the Government will seek further clarification and justification of the activities which would be supported by the proposed funding;
  • the Treaty bases cited for the draft Regulation include Justice and Home Affairs Articles, which implies that the UK could choose under the Title V Protocol whether to opt-in;
  • however, the Government doubts whether citation of so many legal bases is necessary or correct; and
  • the Government will seek clarification on the legal bases cited and the Minister will provide further advice to the Committee on this.

4.10 On the financial implications of the proposal the Minister reiterates that, although the Government supports appropriate development of the Integrated Maritime Policy, it cannot support additional funding from the EU budget margins, as this increases the size of the EU budget and, therefore, Member States' contributions to it. Noting that the Commission's proposal provides for €50 million (£43 million) in commitment appropriations and €39.7 million (£34.2 million) in payment appropriations to support the IMP for the period 2011-13, he says that this would increase the UK contribution to the EU budget by €2.2 million (£1.9 million) over the course of this period.


4.11 Any funding proposal needs rigorous examination and full justification. We laud, therefore, the Government's cautious approach to the draft Regulation. However, before considering the document further we wish to hear from the Minister about:

  • the Government's developed view on subsidiarity;
  • the further clarification and justification it is seeking of the activities which would be supported by the proposed funding;
  • the clarification the Minister promises us on the legal bases for the draft Regulation; and
  • more generally, progress on negotiation of the proposal.

Meanwhile the document remains under scrutiny.

6   (29068) 14631/07 + ADDs 1-5: see HC 16-viii (2007-08), chapter 2 (16 January 2008) and HC Deb, 3 June 2008, cols 713-735. Back

7   (31027) 14363/09 + ADD 1: see HC 5-i (2009-10), chapter 13 (19 November 2009). Back

8   (31945) 13455/10: see HC 428-iv (2010-11), chapter 9 (20 October 2010). Back

9   The conventions are part of the Regional Seas Programme under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme: see Back

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