Cautious welcome for EU maritime plans
The European parliament has given a guarded welcome to plans for an ambitious EU-wide maritime policy.
MEPs in Strasbourg adopted by 520 votes to 25 an own-initiative report on future EU-wide maritime policy.
Despite the overwhelming majority, the report brands the European commission’s green paper on future maritime policy as too vague and calls for more targeted action.
The report, compiled after tough negotiations between five committees, will form parliament’s formal response to the commission’s 12-month public consultation on the green paper.
Parliament is one of over 450 organisations, bodies and institutions to respond to the consultation process, which has just ended.
During a plenary debate, Jo Borg, commissioner for fisheries and maritime affairs, said the executive is striving for a more holistic, cross-sectoral approach to maritime issues.
Parliament's report, drafted by German Socialist deputy Willi Piecyk and adopted on Thursday, proposes 23 measures on maritime transport, climate change, employment and research policy.
Deputies asked for a drastic reduction of CO2 emissions from ships and called for better European shipping with the introduction of a quality label for ships.
In response, Borg told MEPs that while many of their demands had already been incorporated in the green paper, he agreed that speedy progress should be made on legislative plans like the third maritime package.
He said that on October 10, the commission will present an ambitious maritime policy package, including an European maritime policy and action plan.
A future EU sea policy was among the issues which came under the spotlight at a two-day seminar organised this week by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR).
Borg, several senior commission officials, Committee of the Regions president Michel Delebarre and Portuguese maritime affairs minister Joao Mira Gomes were among the keynote speakers.
Delebarre used the event, hosted by the Azores government, to call for the creation of a coastal fund for maritime regions.
The CPMR is one of the main stakeholders in the field and its 50 amendments to the Piecyk report, submitted on its behalf by 50 MEPs from maritime regions, were approved in Strasbourg.
The organisation, which represents 154 regions from 26 countries, generally welcomed the outcome.
It said the decision means that it is more likely that regions and maritime ‘basins’ will be included in the new integrated maritime policy currently being drafted by a European commission task force. It also welcomed the fact that slands are also mentioned in the report.
CPMR president Claudio Martini, who is also president of Tuscany, said the Rennes-based organisation was “partially satisfied” with the parliamentary report.
“During our seminar on the sea and globalisation in the Azores this week, the commissioner showed his interest in our position and concerns,” said Martini.
“He promised to consider the regions as ‘actors’ in the framework of a future integrated maritime policy.
“Thanks to the amendments approved in Strasbourg today and to the mobilisation of our regions, the Piecyk report is much more suitable than what it was yesterday.”
Martini said a maritime policy was urgently needed, pointing out that the EU has a coastline of 68,000km - over three times longer than that of the US and almost twice that of Russia.
He is also pressing Portugal, current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, to consider including maritime issues in the post-2013 financial discussions.
Published: Thu, 12 Jul 2007 17:33:07 GMT+02
Author: Martin Banks