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Procedure : 2006/2299(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0235/2007

Texts tabled :

A6-0235/2007

Debates :

PV 10/07/2007 - 15
CRE 10/07/2007 - 15

Votes :

PV 12/07/2007 - 6.3
CRE 12/07/2007 - 6.3
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2007)0343

Texts adopted
PDF 303kWORD 154k
Thursday, 12 July 2007 - Strasbourg
Towards a future maritime policy for the Union
P6_TA(2007)0343A6-0235/2007

European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on a future maritime policy for the European Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas (2006/2299(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper "Towards a future maritime policy for the Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas" (COM(2006)0275),

   having regard to Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 March 2007 on the islands and natural and economic constraints in the context of the regional policy(1),

   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Fisheries and the Committee on Regional Development (A6-0235/2007),

A.   whereas the seas and oceans make a decisive contribution to the EU's geographical greatness and wealth, through its outermost regions, offering the EU 320 000 km of coastline and being home to a third of Europe's population, including 14 million living on islands,

B.   whereas marine-based industries and services, not including raw materials, contribute between 3 and 6 % of Europe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the coastal regions overall account for 40% of GDP, and whereas 90 % of the EU's external trade and 40 % of its internal trade is transported by sea, and whereas Europe has 40 % of the world's fleet,

C.   whereas applying the Lisbon Strategy to maritime policies not only concerns objectives linked to improving competitiveness but must also have an impact on other pillars of the strategy, such as creating more sustainable and better quality maritime employment in the EU,

D.   whereas the oceans and the seas in Europe contain major transport corridors that accommodate a considerable proportion of transport volume; whereas the oceans and the seas still have substantial potential in terms of worldwide capacity and whereas the oceans and the seas therefore do not only have an important ecological value but a social and economic one too,

E.   whereas shipping is responsible for about 4 % of CO2 emissions worldwide, corresponding to about 1 000 million tonnes, and whereas maritime emissions are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol; whereas, according to an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) study, maritime climate gas emissions will rise by more than 70 % by 2020 and whereas, in addition to CO2, large quantities of other greenhouse gases are given off by on-board cooling systems every year,

F.   whereas, in many maritime fields of activity, improved performances are driven by innovative ideas as regards shipping and whereas the European shipbuilding and ship repair industry, together with its wide network of equipment and service providers, is the worldwide driving force behind innovative maritime hardware,

G.   whereas shipping produces less greenhouse gases per tonne mile than any other mode of transport and technological advances constantly improve the efficiency of this sector; whereas there is a strong political will to promote shipping as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions emanating from freight transport,

H.   whereas the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that about 80 % of marine pollution is caused by effluent from the land,

I.   whereas shipping is also responsible for discharging large quantities of various kinds of effluent into the seas, including effluent from tank cleaning, from ships' kitchens, laundry facilities and sanitary installations, ballast water and accidental oil discharge during operations; whereas various kinds of solid waste are also produced in the course of work on board ships and only a small proportion of it is disposed of at port reception facilities, most of it being burnt at sea or simply thrown overboard,

J.   whereas large ships now carry large quantities of bunker oil on board for their operational needs and, in the event of an accident or incident, this oil can and has caused considerable ecological damage, with few possibilities for redress,

K.   whereas, according to official estimates, about 80 % of accidents at sea are directly attributable to human error,

L.   whereas, at present, when the vast majority of large ships reach the end of their life they are dismantled in shipbreaking yards in the developing world under unacceptable social and ecological conditions, and whereas in most cases the sale of these ships to non-European buyers is a way of circumventing the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal under which these ships would be subject to an export ban as hazardous waste,

M.   whereas sea water levels have been rising, thus endangering coastal regions, populations and industries, such as coastal tourism,

N.   whereas diversity in sea and coastal activities requires flexible spatial planning by Member States and their authorities,

O.   whereas the EU is a world leader as regards the limiting of pollutant emissions emanating from other means of transport as a result of which European industry has become a world leader in innovation, and whereas the sustainable future of European industry in the long term can only be assured through innovation,

P.   whereas the EU has several agencies, including the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (FRONTEX), the Fisheries Agency and the Environment Agency, all of which undertake various marine-related tasks and whereas there are clearly no formal exchanges between them,

Q.   whereas, since 2004, the motorways of the sea have been among the 30 priority projects of the TEN transport network but very little progress has been made,

R.   whereas the oceans and seas are the basis of all life on earth and play a significant role in climate change; whereas an important aim of an integrated maritime policy should be to protect and sustainably preserve their resources, whereas a quarter of marine fish stocks are endangered and of this quarter 17 % have been overfished and 7 % have greatly diminished, whereas only 1% of stocks are gradually recovering, and whereas 52 % of fish stocks have already been so overfished that their numbers cannot be replenished and scientists warn that commercial fishing could collapse by the middle of the century (2048),

S.   whereas fisheries is a highly regulated economic sector and measures must therefore be put in place so as to ensure that these regulations translate into good practice and good results; whereas, in order for there to be sustainable fish stocks, it is necessary to take into account the many varied factors which influence the state of fish stocks, such as climate change, predators, pollution, oil and gas exploration and drilling, maritime wind farms and sand and gravel extraction,

T.   whereas in twenty years' time the EU fisheries sector will have been transformed because of external factors, such as climate change and human action, and whereas, with evidence of such transformation already apparent in the case of North Sea cod, it is crucial to tackle effectively the causes of climate change,

U.   whereas the sea and the oceans play a major role in the production of energy from alternative sources and increase the security of energy supply,

V.   whereas the specificities of European outermost regions and islands, namely illegal immigration, natural disasters, transport and also their impact on biodiversity must be acknowledged,

W.   whereas a large part of the EU external border is maritime and its surveillance and protection implies increased costs for coastal Member States,

X.   whereas the Mediterranean and Black Seas are shared between EU Member States and third countries the latter of which have less resources at their disposal to implement environmental rules and security and safety measures,

1.  Welcomes the above Green Paper and supports the integrated approach to maritime policy, in which, for the first time, maritime policy areas such as shipyards, shipping, ship-safety, tourism, fisheries, ports, marine environment, research, industry, spatial planning and others are described and their mutual interdependence highlighted; sees this as an opportunity for the EU and its Member States to develop a forward-looking maritime policy, cleverly combining the protection of the marine environment and innovative, intelligent use of the seas while ensuring that sustainability remains at the heart of maritime policy; believes that the EU has the opportunity to pioneer an innovative and sustainable maritime policy and that this requires that Member States act with a sense of common purpose; notes that Parliament will, in future, evaluate each Council Presidency according to progress made in the field of European maritime policy;

2.  Welcomes a maritime policy which calls for the integration of policies, of actions and of decisions relating to maritime affairs and which promotes better coordination, more openness and increased cooperation between all players whose actions have an impact on Europe's oceans and seas;

3.  Notes that, with responsibility for policies and actions related to the seas shared between EU authorities, national governments, and regional and local authorities, all levels of government should move towards a more coordinated approach, ensuring that their actions in the maritime arena take full account of the multiple interactions between them;

4.  Calls upon the Commission to take on board the various recommendations of the abovementioned resolution of 15 March 2007 on the islands and natural and economic constraints in the context of regional policy, and in particular to make the setting-up with the Commission of an administrative unit for the islands a priority, so as to develop a long-awaited trans-sectoral approach towards the problems of these territories, as well as to give proper recognition to islands in the EU statistical programme in relation to future maritime policy;

5.  Supports the principle of anchoring European maritime policy into the Lisbon Strategy in order to facilitate economic growth and jobs in a sustainable manner, based on scientific knowledge; stresses the significance of maritime transport in terms of transport volume and economic impact; encourages the Commission to revise existing legislation in the spirit and context of the Commission's Better Regulation initiative and the Lisbon Strategy; stresses that priority should be given to better implementation and enhancement, by the Commission and the Member States, of existing legislation; emphasises Europe's added value in practical initiatives regarding, for example, better coordination and cooperation between Member States in order to avoid possible duplication or contradiction;

Climate change as the greatest challenge to maritime policy

6.  Highlights that, in view of the current discussion on climate change and the first publications of the Fourth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, all those involved must be aware that action is long overdue and that the Community has just 13 years left to use new technologies in order to prevent a climate catastrophy; notes that, according to the report, specific scenarios concern rising sea levels which will be particularly damaging for coastal countries, heatwaves, floods, storms, forest fires and droughts all over the world; stresses that there is also a potential problem pertaining to climate refugees and other problems relating to international security resulting from possible disputes over common resources;

7.  Stresses that the EU must play a leading and pioneering role in combating climate change; emphasises that the Community should use its strengths in research and innovation, take the lead and act decisively at international level;

8.  Stresses that onshore and offshore wind power has very substantial potential for development and could make a major contribution to climate protection and, therefore, calls on the Commission to take action by establishing a section or coordinating unit for wind power and launching a wind power action plan;

9.  Highlights the fact that European maritime policy must play a significant role in combating climate change through at least three policies: first, the emissions from ships of substances such as CO2, SO2 and nitrogen oxide must be drastically reduced; second, emissions trading must be introduced for shipping; third, renewable energies such as wind and solar power must be introduced and promoted for shipping; calls on the Commission to propose legislation to effectively reduce maritime greenhouse gas emissions and calls on the EU to take decisive action to include the maritime sector in international climate conventions;

10.  Is concerned at reports which suggest that maritime carbon dioxide emissions are higher than previously thought, representing up to 5 % of global emissions, and are projected to rise by as much as 75 % in the next 15 to 20 years unless action is taken to counter the trend; points out that greenhouse gas emissions from fishing vessels are significant; notes the lack of progress within the IMO on this issue despite the mandate given in the Kyoto Protocol ten years ago;

11.  Recognises that, in order for Marine Strategy to become the "environmental pillar" of maritime policy, the policies need to be fully complementary so as to ensure consistency in the EU's approach; recognises that carbon dioxide storage in sub-seabed geological structures could provide part of a portfolio of measures for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and calls for the creation of a clear legislative and regulatory framework for the deployment of this technology;

12.  Insists that the planning of development along the Community's lengthy coast, namely for urban development, industrial sites, ports and marinas, recreational sites etc., must explicitly take into consideration the consequences of climate change and the associated rise in sea levels, including the increasing frequency and force of storms and greater wave height;

13.  Stresses the importance of an integrated approach, such as integrated coastal zone management (ICZM), in order that measures be effective.

Better European shipping with better European ships

14.  Stresses that sea transport is an essential part of the world's economic system, and that the transport of goods by ship represents, at present, one of the least environmentally damaging methods of transport; considers, nevertheless, that shipping has a considerable environmental cost, and therefore a sustainable balance between environmental protection and the economic use of Europe's oceans is essential, whereby guaranteeing sustainability must be an absolute priority; calls on the Commission to safeguard this balance when designing its future proposals on maritime and port policy;

15.  Stresses that promoting maritime transport as a sustainable mode of transport requires the development and expansion of ports and port areas; notes that ports are often adjacent to Natura 2000 sites protected under the Birds(2) and Habitats(3) Directives, and stresses the need for constructive approaches and initiatives between port operators and nature conservation bodies in order to achieve acceptable solutions for port authorities, regulators and wider society which respect the spirit and the objectives of those Directives, whilst enabling ports to maintain their central role as global gateways;

16.  Believes that European maritime policy should seek to preserve and strengthen the position of European maritime industries and specialised activities and avoid policies that promote the movement towards third-country flags, which jeopardise the security and protection of the seas and impoverish the European economy; emphasises that the protection of the marine environment can be better achieved through international regulations applying to all ships regardless of flag and port of call;

17.  Considers that an innovative, competitive European maritime manufacturing industry is crucial to sustainable growth according to the Lisbon Strategy; underlines that, considering that production capacities are increasing elsewhere, positive developments as regards European shipyards in recent years should not lead to complacency and therefore calls for further efforts to improve competitiveness and to secure a level playing field;

18.  Urges the Commission to provide support at WTO level for European shipyards, which are continually exposed to unfair competition from Asian shipbuilders;

19.  Welcomes the Commission working document "LeaderSHIP 2015 Progress Report" (COM(2007)0220) and emphasises, in particular, the success of the new comprehensive approach to industrial policy which LeaderSHIP2015 pioneered as one of the first sectoral initiatives;

20.  Stresses that better (transborder) coordination and cooperation between sea ports, and a more balanced European-wide sharing of responsibility between ports, can contribute considerably to avoiding unsustainable land transport;

21.  Sees the EU's role as a leader as regards the imposition of stricter limits not as a restriction but as an opportunity for European industry; in this connection, calls on the Member States and the Community to step up their efforts to promote research into and the development of more efficient and cleaner technologies for ships and ports;

22.  Recognises that ship-source air pollutant emissions will exceed those from land-based sources in the foreseeable future; recalls its request, in the context of the Thematic Strategy on Air Quality, that the Commission and the Member States take urgent measures to cut emissions from the shipping sector and that the Commission come forward with proposals:

   to establish NOx emission standards for ships using EU ports,
   to designate the Mediterranean Sea and the North-East Atlantic as Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) under the MARPOL Convention,
   to lower the maximum permitted sulphur content in marine fuels used in SECAs by passenger vessels from 1,5 % to 0,5 %,
   to introduce fiscal measures, such as taxes or charges on SO2 and NOx emissions from ships,
   to encourage the introduction of differentiated port and fairway charges favouring vessels with low SO2 and NOx emissions,
   to encourage the use of shore-side electricity by ships when in port,
   for an EU directive on the quality of marine fuels;

23.  Sees huge potential for reducing the use of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions in the maritime transport sector, in particular through tax incentives for the use of this type of fuel and greater incentives for R&D and, inter alia, by promoting the use of, and further research into, biofuels and stepping up the use of wind energy for ship propulsion; stresses, however, the need for mandatory environmental and social certification of biofuels and that their full life-cycle, climate efficiency and CO2 balance be undisputed;

24.  Believes that efforts to prevent and respond to pollution caused by ships should not only be confined to oil pollution but should apply to all types of pollution, especially those caused by hazardous and noxious substances; notes, in this regard, that the role played by EMSA is essential and that it should gradually take on more tasks, although these should always be additional to the tasks carried out by Member States in the field of pollution prevention and response; considers it, therefore, necessary to guarantee appropriate financial security for the funding of the tasks entrusted to EMSA;

25.  Welcomes the CleanSeaNet operating system for monitoring and detecting pollution emanating from ships, which will help coastal states locate and identify polluters in geographic areas falling under their jurisdiction; calls for Member States to promptly transpose Directive 2005/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties for infringements(4);

26.  Acknowledges the Commission's activities in the field of ship and maritime safety following the Erika and Prestige disasters the main result of which has been the packages of measures on maritime safety;

27.  Urges the Transport Council to discuss the third maritime safety package very soon and to take a decision, together with Parliament, in order that there be no question of a credibility gap;

28.  Urges the Commission to reinforce all measures relating to civil and criminal liability in the event of an accident or incident, in keeping with the principles of subsidiarity and the division of powers and with the international legal framework;

29.  Recalls its resolution of 21 April 2004 on improving safety at sea(5) and calls on the Commission to take more account of the human factor when taking further steps;

30.  Notes with concern that the Baltic Sea is currently one of the most polluted seas in the world and reminds the Commission of its previous call for the drafting of a recommendation on an EU strategy for the Baltic, proposing measures to improve the environmental condition of the Baltic Sea, in order to reduce the eutrophication of the Baltic in particular and to prevent the discharge of oil and other toxic and damaging substances into the sea; recalls that existing instruments for cooperation, such as INTERREG programmes, should be fully exploited when implementing interregional projects to improve the state of the Baltic environment;

31.  Calls for the establishment of special zones within environmentally sensitive and navigationally difficult areas of the Baltic Sea, particularly the Kadet Trench, the Skagerrak/Kattegat, the Great Belt and the Sound, which ocean-going vessels, in particular oil tankers, may no longer navigate without a pilot, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to initiate the drawing up of necessary measures within the competent international bodies, in particular the IMO;

32.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to submit a proposal to the Parliament and Council as soon as possible in order to ensure that bunker oil for engine fuel in new ships is stored in safer, double-hull tanks since freight or container ships often contain heavy fuel as engine fuel in their bunkers the quantity of which may considerably exceed the cargoes of smaller oil tankers; considers that, before submitting such a proposal, the Commission should ascertain whether or not the existing IMO rules laid down in Resolution MEPC.141(54) are sufficient to guarantee the safe transport of bunker oil used as fuel;

33.  Urges the Commission to intensify vigilance with regard to the application of the rules on the mandatory use of double hulls;

34.  Calls for all ships calling at European ports to have the highest safety standards in place; in this connection, calls for Europe to play a leading role; is aware that these requirements cannot be extended to all ships in the 200-mile zone;

35.  Is concerned that fewer and fewer well-trained young Europeans are working as officers and crew on European ships, which gives rise to fears of a massive brain drain; takes the view that better working conditions, in keeping with the provisions laid down by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the IMO, can help to encourage more Europeans to take up a career at sea;

36.  Urges the Member States and maritime sector stakeholders to review career plans and lifelong learning opportunities in the maritime sector, in order to, firstly, enable skills and experience acquired to be put into practice and, secondly, with a view to introducing systems for switching between sea- and land-based occupations so as to preserve know-how and make career prospects more attractive;

37.  Supports the current negotiations for an agreement between the social partners in the European Union on the implementation of the 2006 ILO Convention on Maritime Labour Standards, noting the non-regression clause enshrined in that Convention: considers that Member States should be required, in the context of future EU maritime policy, to ratify and implement that Convention; calls on the Commission to develop all possible contacts in order to ensure the adoption in 2007 of the ILO Convention on Work in the Fishing Sector, which failed to be adopted in 2005;

38.  Believes that, as suggested in the abovementioned Green Paper, the exclusion of seafarers from social directives should be reviewed by the social partners;

39.  Notes that fishermen and seafarers are excluded from EU social legislation in many areas (e.g. Directive 98/59/EC(6) on collective redundancies, Directive 2001/23/EC(7) on the safeguarding of employees' rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, businesses or parts of undertakings or businesses, Directive 2002/14/EC(8) on informing and consulting employees and Directive 96/71/EC(9) on the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services ); calls on the Commission to reconsider these exemptions in close cooperation with the social partners;

40.  Calls on the Member States and ship-owners to enter into a partnership for the training of quality seafarers and officers, as is successfully being done in Denmark, and, through their education and training policies, to increase their knowledge of and enthusiasm for maritime heritage and provide additional incentives for activities and professions linked to the sea; calls on the Commission to create the requisite conditions to support these partnerships with finance and advice;

41.  Calls for the introduction of a European quality label for ships, in line with the IMO white list classification scheme, meeting the latest safety standards and social conditions, which will give those ships favoured treatment with regard to port state controls;

42.  Notes the scarcity of expert and well-trained professionals facing the industry; suggests that special training courses for skippers and crews of fishing vessels be developed in order to provide a basic understanding of the science that affects their industry, including providing an understanding of the importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability as an aid to the progressive development of an ecosystem-based approach to successful fisheries management;

43.  Urges the Commission to create vocational retraining plans for fishermen, encouraging them to focus on new practices that promote the use of knowledge relating to work at sea; points to the offshore aquaculture and eco-tourism sectors as being among the possible targets;

44.  Points to the importance of improving the image of the fisheries sector, which currently suffers from a lack of respect; is of the opinion that improved health and safety conditions on vessels, and better pay and conditions for crews, can only be achieved in a sustainable and profitable industry and that more resources must be devoted to research and education aimed at improving knowledge and skills;

45.  Notes that the creation of conditions ensuring hygiene, safety and comfort for workers in the fishing industry, both for fishermen themselves and for people working in sectors upstream and downstream, is a key objective of a policy for the seas and oceans;

46.  Considers that, compared to legislation, the concept of corporate social responsibility is of limited value in the context of conserving the maritime environment, and that, therefore, a proper legislative base must continue to underpin the Community programme for environmental conservation, to be strengthened by voluntary actions undertaken by companies wishing to demonstrate their responsible behaviour;

47.  Condemns the conditions under which ships are currently dismantled in the developing world, and calls on the Commission to draw up proposals in order to improve working conditions in the docks where the ships in question are dismantled and to explore all the possibilities in the area of criminal law made available by the Court of Justice with the "polluter pays" principle applying in the maritime sector as is the case in other sectors; welcomes the publication of the Green Paper on safer ship dismantling (COM(2007)0269); calls on the Commission, in this connection, to develop a proposal for a "green passport" to be carried with ships" papers, listing all the toxic substances used in the construction of the ship; believes that the Community should address the ship recycling issue by concluding a mandatory international Convention - foreseen for 2008 or 2009 - and in the meantime follow the IMO guidelines;

48.  Considers that shipyards and marine equipment industries in the Union have managed to remain competitive by investing in innovative products and processes and by creating knowledge-based niche markets; believes that a European maritime strategy should create conditions which are conducive to maintaining the Union's leading position in these markets by, for example, promoting the development of maritime technology transfer mechanisms,

49.  Invites Member States to take full advantage of the Community state aid guidelines concerning employment costs and taxation, with particular emphasis on the tonnage tax system; considers that the LeaderSHIP 2015 Progress Report has had a positive impact, and that the maritime sector must be kept eligible for state aid in order to promote innovation;

50.  Calls for the trans-shipment of oil, or other toxic cargoes, by sea to be limited in future to carefully designated zones under surveillance so as to facilitate the identification of who is liable in the event of a discharge of pollutants into the sea; notes that shipping contributes to marine pollution, and potentially to the disturbance of ecosystems through the introduction, into the seas and oceans, of alien species which are found in discharged ballast water and the use of chemicals in anti-fouling paints that affect the hormones of fish; emphasises that oil slicks are also a major maritime hazard;

51.  Calls for training and information to be provided by compiling, analysing, and disseminating best practice, techniques, instruments for monitoring tank-emptying and innovation to combat pollution by oil and noxious and hazardous substances, and for technical solutions, using inspection and satellite-based surveillance, to be developed for the purpose of monitoring accidental or deliberate spillages;

Better European coastal policy including better European ports

52.  Underlines the importance of the contribution that territorial cooperation and coastal regions networking can make to a holistic maritime policy through the promotion of joint strategies for the competitiveness of coastal zones; considers therefore that the participation of regional and local stakeholders is essential for the success of a European maritime policy; therefore welcomes the fact that European coastal regions are developing ever closer mutual cooperation and networks;

53.  Takes the view that the Commission, the Member States and the regions should make a particular effort to increase awareness of maritime topics; believes this could include, for example, recognition of good examples of tourism projects, environmentally sound shipping or particular contributions to education about the sea; in this regard, proposes that prizes be awarded to exemplary maritime regions as a way of promoting best practice; emphasises the significance of its initiative, which should be promoted by the Commission, regarding the establishment of a European Maritime Day in celebration of the maritime sector; stresses that pilot courses on "maritime education" should be introduced in secondary schools with the support of the Commission;

54.  Stresses that it is of the greatest importance for the development of islands and coastal areas that quantitative restrictions be placed on the discharge of phosphorus and nitrogen into the Baltic Sea, in view of the fact that the condition of the sea is fundamental to tourism and related business; emphasises that there is a need for a clear, easily understandable set of rules and a manual clearly explaining the incentives and their consequences;

55.  Encourages regions and Member States to use cohesion policy instruments in order to achieve further integration in maritime and coastal policy, promote entrepreneurship and set up SMEs, thus helping to overcome the problem of seasonal employment; calls, in particular, for the creation of a network of regions of maritime excellence in the framework of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective;

56.  Considers it to be of major importance that early warning systems be developed along Atlantic coasts which are potentially exposed to tsunamis;

57.  Emphasises the fundamental importance of ports and the role they play as funnels for international trade, as economic drivers and job creators for coastal regions and as transit centres for fisheries, as well as being essential security-control points;

58.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission, in view of the air pollution in many port cities and regions, to significantly increase incentives for the use of land-based power supplies to ships in port when this is cost-effective and results in environmental benefits; calls, therefore, for Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity(10) to be revised in order that those Member States taking advantage of tax-free bunker oil, as provided for by Article 14 of that Directive, be obliged to exempt land-based electricity from tax to the same extent;

59.  Calls for the revision of Directive 2000/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 November 2000 on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues(11), so that all ships calling at a Member State's ports would be obliged to discharge 100 % of their solid and liquid waste;

60.  Considers that, in future, goods transport bottlenecks are more likely to occur in the connections between ports and European land transport networks, rather than in the reception capacities of ports; considers that, if the best use is to be made of the maritime transport possibilities, European ports must have the best possible hinterland connections available to them, and therefore calls for them to be developed where necessary, giving priority to more environmentally friendly modes of transport, such as rail and inland waterways;

61.  Believes, given the huge importance of waterborne transport both within the internal market and between the Union and its trading partners, that a new EU maritime strategy should contain a port strategy allowing ports to develop in response to market developments and demand while respecting relevant legislation with a view to establishing a favourable climate for investment in order to facilitate sufficient port capacity to accommodate increasing maritime cargo traffic flows; insists that such a strategy be developed in coordination with the current debate on a European Ports Policy, in order to avoid the duplication of work;

62.  Notes that Europe is a popular region for yachting tourism, cruiser tourism and sub-aqua tourism; encourages the maritime regions to invest in their marina infrastructure and other related infrastructures in order to benefit from this growing market whilst ensuring the protection of habitats, species and marine ecosystems in general; calls on the Commission to help set harmonised standards for facilities and technical equipment so as to ensure a high level of service quality throughout the Union;

63.  Favours the creation of more maritime clusters which take advantage of the positive experience gained and good practices already being carried out in this domain, and believes that these examples should be followed and promoted; calls on the Member States to take measures to enhance the economic competitiveness of coastal regions by encouraging research, the creation of centres of maritime excellence and technological development and innovation as well as inter-business cooperation (networks, clusters, public partners) and the provision of improved support services aimed at reducing the dependence of those regions on a very limited number of (traditional) economic activities;

64.  Reconfirms its position of 14 November 2006 on the Marine Strategy Directive(12) and in particular as regards the prohibitions and/or criteria for systematic/intentional disposal of any solid materials, liquid or gas into the water column, or seabed/subsoil; furthermore, considers that any storage of carbon dioxide in the seabed and subsoil should be subject to authorisation pursuant to international law, a prior environmental impact assessment in accordance with Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment(13) and relevant international conventions, as well as regular monitoring and controls;

65.  Is thus convinced that renewable resources of the marine environment can and should be used sustainably so that their exploitation, and the resulting economic benefits, can continue in the long term; stresses the need, therefore, for the various policies concerned to be adapted to the requirements of a healthy marine environment; calls in this connection also for greater use of onshore and offshore wind power in order to exploit sustainably its potential from the point of view of employment and economic policy;

66.  Insists, however, that coastal zone management must have, as one of its core objectives, the conservation of the marine environment, rather than setting aside a few sample areas as a token gesture to conservation efforts, particularly in the light of Recommendation 2002/413/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2002 concerning the implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe(14);

67.  In this context, agrees with the Commission that there is a natural limit to the amount of human activity, in terms of population density and industrial activity, that coastal zones can support without suffering severe and possibly irreversible environmental degradation; supports, therefore, the Commission's view that a comprehensive study is needed in order to be better able to identify these limits and to forecast and plan accordingly;

68.  Points out that three-dimensional mapping of the seabed will be of immense value not only to the fishing industry but also to the energy sector, conservationists and even defence interests; considers that the significant commercial value of such maps is evident and thus they may help to solve the question of funding for this activity; believes improved data across the maritime sector could include better weather forecasting, information on anticipated wave heights and a range of factors which would enhance safety and development;

69.  Calls for the development of all necessary measures to prevent and manage the risks of damage to coastal areas by natural disasters such as floods, erosion, storms and tsunamis; further stresses the need to adopt Community measures in order to deal with dangers to European coastal ecosystems, engendered by various human activities;

70.  Considers that building sea defences to protect against rising sea levels can lead to a loss of habitat, while the rise itself causes a 'coastal squeeze' of salt marshes and mudflats and the erosion of sand dunes all of which are rich habitats for plants and animals; calls for a long-term strategy to maintain coastal defences, protect against rising sea levels and minimise habitat loss;

71.  Encourages the development of new networks for the implementation of projects and activities in the form of partnerships between the private sector, NGOs, local authorities and regions, with a view to achieving greater dynamism, innovation and efficiency and improving the quality of life in coastal areas;

72.  Stresses the need to make coastal regions more attractive not just as places of leisure but as places in which to live, work and invest, by improving accessibility and internal transport infrastructure; further calls for the adoption of measures to improve services of general interest (health, education, water and energy, information, communication technologies, postal services, waste water and waste treatment), taking into account seasonal demographic changes;

73.  Urges the Member States, in view of the fact that a significant proportion of the overall pollution of European seas originates from the land, to rapidly implement all current and future European legislation in this area; in addition, calls on the Commission to put forward an action plan in order to reduce this pollution; takes the view that financial support for projects to reduce pollution in third countries is also important, as in these countries the level of filter and purification systems is often far below European standards and therefore financial investment can have a greater effect;

74.  Notes that most pollution in the marine environment originates from land-based sources, including, but not limited to, agricultural run-off and industrial emissions, which have an especially deleterious impact on closed and semi-enclosed seas; stresses that the EU must pay particular attention to these areas and take measures to limit and prevent further pollution; also considers that the new GMES technology (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) could be successfully used for that purpose;

75.  Takes into account that the maritime sector is one of the few areas in which the 'polluter pays' principle is not adhered to; believes that effluent-discharging industries, industries involved in sand and gravel extraction, maritime energy concerns and any other businesses which, though based on land, can be viewed as a source of pollution of the marine environment, should contribute to an EU fund geared towards the conservation of marine flora and fauna, including the replenishment of fish stocks, and that the Commission should make an effort to ensure a more uniform and effective application of the 'polluter pays' principle;

76.  Calls on the Commission to take action to control pollutants (environmental pollution of the seas) from agricultural run-off, sewage or industrial effluents and litter which is often plastic and which can choke sea mammals, turtles and birds; stresses that such pollutants are becoming an increasing hazard, impacting severely on the fisheries sector and on tourism as well as reducing the quality and health of fisheries products destined for human consumption; calls on the Commission, with regard to ocean-going vessels, to urge Member States to implement Annex V of the MARPOL Convention, which prohibits the discharge of plastic waste and ash from plastic incineration into the sea; calls on the Commission to amend Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities in order to improve the adequacy and availability of such facilities in the EU and ultimately reduce the discarding of refuse into the sea;

77.  Urges the EU, in the context of international maritime policy, and the UN Convention of 10 December 1982 on the Law of the Sea and the Agreement of 28 July 1994 relating to the implementation of Part XI thereof(15), to improve international rules on the safety of maritime transport, marine pollution prevention, and protection and preservation of the marine environment; in addition, calls on the EU authorities to make a particular effort to ensure that the Member States make effective use of the legally binding dispute settlement procedure embodied in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which was set up in 1996, with its seat in Hamburg, on the basis of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as regrettably Member States have to date tended not to settle disputes through the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea;

78.  Encourages the Commission to undertake specific science-based environmental and socio-economic statistical and other studies of the maritime regions in order to monitor and control the effects that the development of economic, sports, and recreational activities have on those regions;

79.  Is concerned at the lack of well-trained personnel in important land-based sectors of the maritime economy; considers that, employment campaigns, run jointly by the Member States and the enterprises concerned, can help to alleviate the problem;

80.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to involve all relevant stakeholders concerned in all stages of the process of improving EU maritime policy, both in implementing and enforcing existing legislation and in drafting new initiatives;

Sustainable coastal tourism

81.  Stresses the fact that, if developed wisely, tourism is a sustainable source of income for local economies, ensuring the protection and enhancement of the environment as well as the promotion and preservation of cultural, historical and environmental features, crafts, and sustainable maritime tourism; therefore particularly urges investment in tourism infrastructure in connection with sailing, diving and cruises, and the protection and promotion of archaeological marine treasures;

82.  Emphasises that the subsidiarity principle applies to tourism; stresses the need to respect national plans based on experience and best practice;

83.  Stresses the fact that the lack of appropriate and comparable data is one of the key problems in obtaining reliable data on the employment situation in the coastal tourism industry;

84.  Also considers that a clean environment and good air and water quality are vital for the sector's survival and that, therefore, all future European tourism projects should be considered with a view to ecological acceptability and sustainability;

85.  Notes that Europe is a favourite destination for cruises; stresses that the supply of services should be organised in such a way that it guarantees open competition and that the need for better infrastructure regarding this activity must be met;

86.  Takes the view that traditional seasonal business should be developed into a year-round activity; stresses that the sector should make use of the opportunity to invest in sustainable, year-round tourism activities; considers that extending the season can create jobs and bring about economic success; emphasises that, in terms of sustainability and environmental education, examples of best practice can have a significant influence on the concept of tourism; highlights that the main objective is that the sector and the coastal environment benefit from extending the seasonal business period;

87.  Believes that European Agenda 21 for the sustainability of European tourism must take into account the specificity of coastal tourism, and island tourism, and present useful initiatives and share good practices that are efficient in fighting seasonality, such as, for example, developing tourism geared towards senior citizens;

88.  Calls on the Commission to propose a sustainable European maritime tourism strategy that adopts an integrated policy approach;

Sustainable maritime environment

89.  Recalls its resolution of 14 November 2006 on a Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment(16) and reiterates, in particular, the need for:

   the EU to have as its overarching objective the sustainable use of the seas and the conservation of marine ecosystems, including a strong EU policy on marine protection, preventing further loss of biodiversity and deterioration of the marine environment,
   the inclusion of a common EU-wide definition of good environmental status,
   the European Environment Agency to provide regular assessments of the marine environment, which requires an improvement in national data collection, reporting and exchange,
   recognition of the importance of prior consultation, coordination and cooperation with neighbouring states in the adoption and implementation of the forthcoming Marine Strategy Directive,

90.  Recognises that a healthy marine environment constitutes the basis for sustainable development of the shipping sector in the EU and recalls the EU's commitment to incorporate the environmental dimension into all aspects of Community policy;

91.  Insists that a clean marine environment, with sufficient biodiversity to ensure the proper functioning of its component ecosystems, is essential for Europe; further insists that, because of the intrinsic value of maritime areas, the benefits of a good marine environmental status in the EU extend well beyond the potential economic gains to be made from exploiting the various components of the seas, coastal waters and river basins and that, therefore, the conservation and, in many cases, rehabilitation of the EU's marine environment is imperative;

92.  Recalls the principle underpinning the ecosystem approach to the management of human activities as one of the key elements of the Thematic Strategy on the Marine Environment; insists that this principle also be applied with regard to maritime policy;

93.  Stresses in the strongest possible terms that the criteria used to define good environmental status must be sufficiently far-reaching since these objectives, which pertain to quality, will probably constitute the benchmark for action programmes for a long time to come;

94.  Also considers that measures to improve water quality must be taken swiftly and is, therefore, concerned at the extended timetable proposed in the proposal for a directive on a marine strategy;

95.  Insists that the implementation of a network of marine protected areas be accelerated;

96.  Is convinced that a clean marine environment is critical for marine species, including both commercial fish and fish that are not commercially exploited, and that the replenishment of depleted fish stocks depends on a reduction in marine pollution as well as in fishing levels; considers that, in order to ensure that fishmeal used in the EU is not contaminated, it is imperative to reduce marine pollutants;

97.  Draws attention to the sometimes disastrous impact of exotic organisms in the marine ecosystem and recognises that invasive alien species are a significant threat to marine biodiversity; calls on the Commission to take urgent measures to prevent the transfer of organisms in ballast water and to introduce effective controls on the discharge of ballast water within EU waters;

98.  Considers that the concept of clustering could have a positive impact on the marine environment if habitat conservation, pollution control, and other environmental technologies are incorporated into the design and implementation of clusters from the planning stages onwards;

99.  Welcomes the recognition by the Commission that a comprehensive system of spatial planning is necessary in order to ensure a stable regulatory environment and a legally binding basis for decision making; considers that an essential criterion for effective ecosystem-based spatial planning must be to organise activities in such a way as to reduce the impact of environmentally damaging activities on ecologically sensitive areas while simultaneously using resources in all other areas in an ecologically sustainable manner; in this context insists on the use of the Strategic Environmental Assessment instrument under Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment(17); stresses that any system of marine spatial planning at EU level must add value to national systems and plans, where they exist, be based on the level of marine regions and sub-regions as proposed by the Marine Strategy Directive and be a tool to further the use of an ecosystem-based approach to marine management and the objectives of good environmental status under the Marine Strategy Directive;

100.  Notes that the achievement of a good environmental status also requires that human activities conducted outside ecologically sensitive areas be strictly regulated so as to minimise any possible negative impact on the marine environment;

Integrated fisheries policy

101.  Takes the view that fishing activity must contribute to the maintenance of viable coastal communities; stresses that, in order for this to be achieved, inshore, small-scale fishing interests and recreational anglers must be given access to fisheries, and that such fishing activities encourage tourism, protect our rich coastal heritage and help to keep our seaside communities together;

102.  Expresses its concern that, while the sector is ready to accept the development of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, as a result of the additional restrictions that might result from the Natura 2000 network and other possible marine protected areas (MPAs), unrestricted access and the fisheries activities in these areas might be compromised; takes the view that the development of fisheries activities that do not harm the protection objectives should be allowed within MPAs; also takes the view that, in the case of fisheries activities that harm, or potentially harm, the protection objectives of MPAs, greater efforts should be made, including through research and development, to make fishing methods more environmentally-friendly in order to facilitate greater access to such areas wherever justifiable;

103.  Notes, however, that fishing will have to be restricted in the future through a precautionary approach ensuring the maintenance of healthy ecosystems and the protection of rare, vulnerable or valued species and habitats and that this will inevitably include an increased level of environmental protection than before, involving a network of MPAs created in accordance with the provisions laid down within the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and a system of ICZM, so as to ensure that the needless degradation of habitats and sharp decline in biodiversity is stopped;

104.  Calls on the Commission to take due account of successful experiences in fisheries management by local and regional authorities so that they can be applied as models in other regions, particularly those experiences that involve integrated and sustainable management of the sea through a ban on non-selective fishing gear, matching the size of fishing fleets to available resources, coastal planning, regulating tourism activities, such as cetacean watching, drawing up management plans for sites in the Natura 2000 network and creating protected areas;

105.  Stresses that the valuable advisory role of Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) should be recognised and that RACs should be consulted on marine management;

106.  Endorses the commitment made by the EU at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg 2002, and reiterated in the recent Commission Communication entitled "Implementing sustainability in EU fisheries through maximum sustainable yield" (COM(2006)0360), to restore fish populations to levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2015, where possible; is of the view that this is best done by avoiding the use of arbitrary reference points that are based on a simple mathematical model; considers that an alternative interpretation of MSY, using a concept such as maximising the cumulative catches over a fixed period of time (possibly a decade), could provide a realistic and possible way of improving the state of fisheries in the EU;

107.  Considers that one important way of reducing discards is to improve the selectivity of fishing, through modifications to fishing gear and techniques; recognises that the cooperation and knowledge of fishermen in this matter is essential and that fishermen who are innovative in this sense should be rewarded;

108.  Calls for increased efforts to end the disgraceful by-catch and discard problem which is a serious consequence of the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas regime of the CFP; takes the view that the by-catch depredation of marine mammals, seabirds and turtles is an abhorrence that must be stopped and that, in addition, the damage caused by fishing gear to sensitive seabeds and vulnerable deep water habitats, such as cold-water reefs, seamounts and sponge fields, requires that these be given special protection from fishing gear; points out that lost nets also lead to 'ghost-fishing' which can cause considerable fish-stock depletion and habitat damage;

109.  Believes strongly that there is an urgent need to promote and apply a mapping/spatial planning programme for Community waters in order to meet the need to maintain a sustainable and geographically representative fisheries sector; believes that the mapping out of zones is a suitable exercise as regards off-shore wind-farms or energy production, carbon sequestration and sand and gravel extraction or as regards aquaculture and that mapping the location of marine protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites and other sensitive habitats and species, would lead to a more efficient and sustainable use of the maritime environment; stresses that in order to enable effective spatial planning, areas of fishing activity need to be mapped, and this should be facilitated by improving and standardising access to vessel monitoring systems and logbook data across Member States; considers that planning decisions concerning Community waters should be taken in full consultation with the fisheries sector and the communities directly affected;

110.  Highlights the increasing socio-economic significance of fish farming as marine fish stocks diminish worldwide; believes that the worldwide annual sale of aquaculture products will soon exceed the sale of wild catch; stresses that the EU has been at the forefront of this exciting development and should strive to maintain its leading position and encourage further development in a way that is compatible with other coastal and maritime uses; stresses the importance of fish farming for often remote, rural communities where few other job opportunities exist; highlights that, within the context of an ICZM approach, clearly defined areas where fish farms may be clustered should be promoted and that this should be linked to a simplified regulatory regime encouraging entrepreneurship and sustainability; believes that new techniques should be developed in the aquaculture sector in order to enable improved management of quality, traceability assurance throughout the production and value-added chains and the overall recognition of fish farming as a key activity in the maritime sector;

111.  Draws attention to the fact that certain aquaculture practices are contributing to the depletion of some stocks; points out that catching juveniles of certain species in the sea for fattening prevents them from reproducing and ensuring the biological balance between species; takes the view that the high prices that some of these species reach in some world markets lie at the root of this complete disregard for the need to preserve certain marine ecosystems;

112.  Points out that military operations also impact on the fisheries sector; notes that marine firing ranges are 'no go' areas for fishing and other forms of shipping but that they can, however, offer havens for biodiversity; stresses, nevertheless, that the use of ultra low frequency sonar, particularly by submarines, has a serious effect on sea mammals and other fish stocks and should be strictly regulated and confined to zones;

113.  Stresses the need to monitor fishing in international waters, since this also affects fishery resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) within the EU.

Marine research, energy, technology and innovation

114.  Considers that most of the environmental and sustainability challenges need a response that makes proper use of the scientific and technological knowledge which must be, for that purpose, properly supported by sufficient funding by the Community and Member States; calls for the Commission to deliver a strategy for European Maritime Research and for better coordination and networking of European marine research institutes; to this end strongly endorses the establishment of a "European marine science network", with participation by all relevant European marine research institutes and support from the EU; calls for the knowledge acquired to be entered and stored in a European marine data centre to which all marine research institutes would have access; favours in this context the promotion of a European maritime conference on a regular basis to provide a forum for researchers and industry;

115.  Acknowledges that good governance of marine environment resources requires a solid information base; stresses, therefore, the importance of sound scientific knowledge of the marine environment in order to assist cost-effective decision making and to avoid measures that do not add value; insists, therefore, that marine research be given special treatment in terms of resource allocation in order to enable sustainable and effective environmental improvements to be made;

116.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to draw up and implement a survey programme for the European seabed and European coastal waters, with a view to developing a European marine atlas on this basis;

117.  Endorses the view in the Green Paper that there are significant and serious problems with the data available on the condition of the marine environment and the activities that are either conducted or have an impact on it; supports, therefore, the call for much improved programmes of data collection, mapping and surveying, vessel tracking, etc. in those areas involving the Member States, the Marine Conventions, the Commission and other Community bodies, such as the European Environment Agency and EMSA; stresses the importance of exchanging best practice at national, regional and European levels;

118.  Calls for maritime research to be part of the EU's Seventh Framework Research Programme as a crosscutting theme and as a key topic for future framework research programmes; insists that the oceans" potential contribution to solving Europe's energy problems be included as the main focus of research, which must be encouraged;

119.  Stresses the enormous development potential of offshore wind energy and the major contribution it is able to make to Europe's independence from energy imports and to climate protection, while pointing out that enormous efforts are still needed to fully develop this potential; therefore calls on the Commission to draw up an offshore wind energy action plan embodying an efficient European approach to offshore technology, promoting more extensive networking and indicating the prospects of achieving a power generation capacity of at least 50 GW by 2020: therefore expects above all the adoption of a 'one-stop shop' approach and the promotion of an intelligent offshore network infrastructure; welcomes the Commission recommendation for a European strategic Energy Technology Plan and urges that efforts be focused on the large-scale development of offshore wind energy;

120.  Recognises the importance of the coastal zone for the development of renewable energy which forms a crucial and integral part of the EU's efforts to combat global climate change; points out that proper zoning for the purposes of maritime spatial planning to allow for the development of sites for the exploitation of wind, tide and other forms of power will therefore be necessary in order to minimise conflict with other users of the marine environment and to avoid degrading the environment, taking account of environmental impact assessments (EIA); welcomes the significant opportunities offered by the growing renewable energy industries for the creation of employment and technical expertise in the EU;

121.  Stresses, while bad practice must be ruled out, the importance of non-fishery developments which can be compatible with the fishery sector, such as the design of energy production platforms or wind turbine platforms that help to encourage and sustain a flourishing ecosystem, thus helping establish of nursery and spawning grounds for marine species in a fishing exclusion zone;

122.  Supports the shift to carbon-free energy generation, ensuring that the design and location of renewable energy generators provides proper safeguards for maritime wildlife; therefore, calls for the careful planning of maritime renewable energy installations; notes that there are many potential hazards associated with energy production which must be avoided; highlights that structures aimed at harnessing wind or wave energy can effect the natural cycles of the lower layer of the sea; emphasises that estuaries could lose inter-tidal bird feeding areas due to the introduction of barrages that reduce tidal range; underlines, similarly, that tidal power changes could affect horse mussel and flame-shell reefs, maerl beds, anemone and soft corals;

123.  Considers that there is considerable room for improvement as regards desalination technology to avoid the pollution of coastal waters, specially if those areas are part of the Natura 2000 network; invites the competent authorities to assess the environmental impact of desalination plants, particularly in those areas where water can be obtained through more sustainable means;

124.  Considers that, given the particularly rapid development of seawater desalination plants discharging tonnes of brine and other products into the sea, the Commission should investigate the effect of such plants on plankton and the seabed and on the changes and mutations occurring within the ecosystem;

125.  Believes that the Galileo satellite navigation system and the GMES system offer huge potential for the maritime sector; encourages the Commission to better promote the use of these systems in the framework of the maritime strategy;

126.  Points to the importance of ICT in port logistics; is convinced that new legislative proposals, such as those on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), should be aimed at pushing forward the use of these technologies; calls on the Commission to set EU-wide ICT standards for all ports in the Union and to take a leading role in the negotiations on setting international technology standards;

127.  Points out that, as the outermost regions lie in areas of the Atlantic and the Indian oceans and are well placed for observing phenomena, such as those related to weather cycles and vulcanology and, furthermore, that oceanography, biodiversity, environmental quality, management of natural resources, energy and water, genetics, public health, health sciences, new telecommunications systems and services in these territories are par excellence fields for European research, these regions should be considered when planning future research and development programmes;

128.  Considers blue biotechnology as one of the most promising technologies of the coming decades, with many possible uses in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, the food industry and environmental remediation; believes that research efforts in this area should be strengthened and that Member States could take advantage of the creation of Blue Investment Funds, as proposed by the Green paper and that better synergy could be achieved by better coordinating Member State research efforts in this field; emphasises that any blue technology development must be strongly regulated and properly assessed in order to avoid overexploitation and further damage to already fragile and threatened marine ecosystems;

129.  Points out that ocean floor sediments comprise large quantities of gas hydrates that might supplement or replace traditional hydrocarbons; highlights that securing access to and evaluating these resources and developing ways of exploiting them are a major challenge that Europe should examine closely; believes that EU Member States" extension of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, under Article 76 of the Montego Bay Convention, is an opportunity to preserve access to potential extra resources;

A Common Maritime Policy

130.  Highlights the significant achievements of the EU in recent years as regards maritime safety and environmental protection (ERIKA I and II package and other legislative measures); calls on the Council to adopt, as soon as possible, common positions on the legislative proposals of the "Third Maritime Safety Packages" on which a political agreement has only just recently been reached;

131.  Maintains that the transnational sea region is an important area for potential partnership and consultation between the actors concerned by sectoral policies (transport, environment, maritime safety, management of fish stocks, etc.) and urges the Commission to encourage this networking with the support of the 2007-2013 territorial cooperation programme and the "sea regions" programme of the new neighbourhood policy; considers that the specific nature of their geographic locations in no way excludes the outermost regions from being part of these sea regions, and that they therefore have a legitimate role to play in the dynamic of the sea basins.

132.  Agrees with the Commission that the creation of a common European maritime space could considerably increase the efficiency of territorial waters management and believes that such maritime space will contribute to the integration of the internal market for intra-EU maritime transport and services, especially as regards the simplification of customs and administrative procedures and with respect to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and IMO Conventions including the "freedom of navigation" and the "right of innocent passage" within the EEZ in international waters (High Seas); notes that Community law has already taken considerable steps in this direction but that in some cases implementation in the Member States is still lagging behind; calls on the Member States to implement European laws promptly;

133.  Highlights the advantages and potential of short sea shipping as a sustainable and efficient transport mode that easily bypasses land bottlenecks and has sufficient capacity for growth; asks, therefore, the Commission to support and promote short sea shipping by fully implementing the acts concerning short sea shipping; considers that the fact that short sea shipping is still viewed in law as international transport is a hindrance to its growth; therefore calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal to integrate short sea crossings into the European internal market; underlines that this must not interfere with the UNCLOS and IMO Conventions including the "freedom of navigation" and the "right of innocent passage" within the EEZ in international waters (High Seas);

134.  Is disappointed at the progress made to date as regards the implementation of TEN project No 21, "motorways of the sea", and calls on the Commission to appoint a coordinator in order to speed up implementation of the sea motorways;

135.  Considers that the new maritime policy adopted by the EU should also focus on the protection and promotion of maritime archaeological resources; considers that the inclusion, in the European marine atlas, of a cartographic inventory of submerged wrecks and archaeological sites would facilitate the understanding and study of those phenomena, enabling the competent authorities in each Member State to improve the preservation of their historical and cultural heritage;

136.  Considers that the full and timely implementation of all EU environmental legislation (inter alia the Water Framework Directive(18), Habitats and Wild Birds Directives, Nitrates Directive(19), Marine Fuel Sulphur Directive(20), Directive on Penal Sanctions for Marine Pollution) is imperative for conserving the quality of the marine environment, and that the Commission should exert the necessary pressure to encourage the Member States to do so, and, if necessary, take legal action;

137.  Is convinced that the precautionary principle, as embodied in Article 174(2) of the Treaty, must form the basis of all types of exploitation of the maritime zones of the EU; stresses that a lack of scientific certainty should therefore not be used as an excuse for delaying preventive action; believes, on the other hand, that haste as regards preventive action should not prevent the use of scientific information;

138.  Notes that the Green Paper mentions several useful contributions that could be made by the military, including search and rescue, disaster relief and surveillance at sea; regrets, however, that no mention is made of the environmental degradation that can be caused by the military, such as weapons testing, construction of naval bases and the use of high intensity underwater sonar systems which can have a detrimental effect on cetaceans leading to deafness, internal organ damage and fatal mass stranding; insists, in this respect, that military activities be fully incorporated in the maritime policy and be subject to full environmental impact assessments and liability.

139.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to include in their maritime policy comprehensive investigations into old ammunition stocks from previous wars that have been dumped in European seas, and the dangers they present for people and the environment, and to examine the possibilities of making them safe and/or salvaging them, and to take appropriate action;

140.  Calls for the Community to play a more prominent role in international organisations; stresses, however, that the Community cannot and should not represent, still less replace, the Member States; reiterates however, that the Community must be given observer status within the IMO;

141.  Stresses that the EU must actively engage in maritime governance at international level in order to promote a level playing field within the maritime economy without compromising ambitions concerning the environmental sustainability of maritime activities;

142.  Stresses that the implementation and enforcement of existing IMO-, ILO- and EU-legislation has led to a safer, cleaner and economically viable maritime sector; welcomes the fact that Annexes I and II of the MARPOL Convention that came into effect on 1 January 2007 have been revised; calls on the EU Member States to ratify rapidly all relevant IMO- and ILO-Conventions, particularly Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention, the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships and International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS); calls for ratification or non-ratification to be used as a criterion for searching ships during port State control operations;

143.  Encourages Member States and the Commission to participate actively in discussions, under the auspices of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPCF), to combat substandard shipping and therefore, promote quality shipping; stresses that, in the medium term, consideration should be given to the review of the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and the IOPCF;

144.  Considers that EMSA, FRONTEX, the Fisheries Agency and the Environment Agency have various instruments at their disposal which could usefully be combined to provide effective support to a European maritime policy; therefore urges the Commission not only to remove obstacles to cooperation between these agencies, but to formalise such cooperation in order to achieve the following:

   i) safety at sea and the protection of the marine environment (including fisheries inspection), protection from terrorism, piracy and criminal acts at sea and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing;
   ii) coordinated fisheries inspections and equal enforcement throughout the EU with equal penalties and sanctions being applied in the courts of Member States;
   iii) strict monitoring of compliance with designated shipping routes and prosecution for illegal discharges from ships; rapid, coordinated response in the event of an accident, deploying the necessary measures as soon as possible, including designating places of refuge and ports for emergency use and combating illegal immigration; reiterates its call, included in its resolution of 21 April 2004, for a European coastguard service to be set up and asks the Commission to come forward with the study on its feasibility as soon as possible;

145.  Expects the European Neighbourhood Policy to take into due account the maritime policy for the Union and the need to cooperate with the EU's neighbouring states as regards the environment, safety and security of the seas and at sea;

146.  Considers that IUU fishing is a serious and increasing problem, causing both the destruction of valuable fish stocks and unfair competition between fishermen who respect and fishermen who do not respect the rules; notes that, as regards certain fisheries in the EU, IUU catches are a significant part of the total catch; looks forward to the Commission's forthcoming communication and legislative proposals to combat IUU fishing and update the EU's 2002 Action Plan;

147.  Calls for a continuing integrated approach to European maritime policy in the future; stresses that this should include at least regular coordination meetings of the relevant Commissioners and regular public exchanges of views with other stakeholders, for example during biennial conferences; calls on future Council Presidencies to include maritime policy in their work programmes; also calls on the Commission to indicate annually all EU-funded projects with maritime relevance.

148.  Notes that the concept of maritime policy integration must now be put into practice and requests the Commission to reinforce its policy framework, with a view to carrying out a holistic analysis of maritime affairs and the policies that affect them, ensuring that interactions are fully taken into account in each sectoral policy and coordinating between them where appropriate; welcomes the steps taken by all the Community institutions and Member State governments as regards their response, in a cross-sectoral manner, to the Maritime Policy Green Paper and invites them to take further steps in this direction;

149.  Calls for the creation of a budget line entitled 'Maritime policy: pilot projects' to promote pilot projects seeking to integrate various systems for the monitoring and surveillance of the seas, collate scientific data on the sea, and disseminate networks and best practices in the field of maritime policy and the coastal economy; calls for maritime policy to be taken duly into account in the budgetary architecture of EU policies and instruments after 2013;

o
o   o

150.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0082.
(2) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7).
(3) Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1).
(4) OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 11.
(5) OJ C 104 E 30.4.2004, p. 730.
(6) OJ L 225, 12.8.1998, p. 16.
(7) OJ L 82, 22.3.2001, p. 16.
(8) OJ L 80, 23.3.2002, p. 29.
(9) OJ L 18, 21.1.1997, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 283, 31.10.2003, p. 51.
(11) OJ L 332, 28.12.2000, p. 81.
(12) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0482.
(13) OJ L 175, 5.7.1985, p. 40.
(14) OJ L 148, 6.6.2002, p. 24.
(15) OJ L 179, 23.6.1998, p. 3.
(16) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0486.
(17) OJ L 197, 21.7.2001, p. 30.
(18) Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1).
(19) Council Directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (OJ L 375, 31.12.1991, p. 1).
(20) Council Directive 1999/32/EC of 26 April 1999 relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels and amending Directive 93/12/EEC (OJ L 121, 11.5.1999, p. 13).

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