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Procedure : 2008/2009(INI)
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Tuesday, 20 May 2008 - Strasbourg
An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union

European Parliament resolution of 20 May 2008 on an integrated maritime policy for the European Union (2008/2009(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled 'An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union' (COM(2007)0575 - SEC(2007)1283),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled 'Conclusions from the Consultation on a European Maritime Policy' (COM(2007)0574),

–   having regard to the Commission proposal for a joint tripartite declaration establishing a 'European Maritime Day' (SEC(2007)1631),

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper entitled 'Towards a future maritime policy for the Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas' (COM(2006)0275) and the Parliament's resolution of 12 July 2007(1),

–   having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the European Council of 8 - 9 March 2007 on the adoption by the European Council of a 'European Council Action Plan (2007-2009) – Energy Policy for Europe',

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled '20 20 by 2020 – Europe's climate change opportunity' (COM(2008)0030),

–   having regard to the provisions laid down in the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on 23 February 2006, a single instrument encompassing and adapting the maritime labour conventions adopted by the ILO since 1919,

–   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 Regional Development, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Fisheries (A6-0163/2008),

A.   whereas the oceans and seas are essential economic and environmental factors for the EU; whereas the EU, through its coastal and outermost regions, offers 320 000 km of coastline which is home to a third of Europe's population,

B.   whereas marine-based industries and services, together with the coastal regions, contribute 40 % of EU GDP,

C.   whereas climate change is the greatest challenge of all policies in the 21st century; having regard to the threat posed to coastal regions by the climate-induced rise in sea levels, which may be on a massive scale, with drastic consequences for residents,

D.   whereas on the one hand the EU's maritime regions, and particularly its outermost regions, play a very important role regarding safety and security against criminal acts such as illegal immigration, terrorism and smuggling and yet on the other hand they are exposed to specific environmental disasters,

E.  whereas in the last year criminal assaults against Community fishing, merchant and passenger vessels, in international waters near the African coasts have increased in number and frequency, posing a great risk to the lives of the crew, and having a significant negative impact on international trade,

1.  Welcomes the adoption by the Commission of the above-mentioned communications and the Action Plan presented in the above-mentioned staff working document;

2.  Reaffirms its resolution of 12 July 2007 and welcomes the fact that the Commission has taken over a fair proportion of the requests made by the Parliament, at least to some extent;

3.  Points out that the exceptional maritime dimension conferred on the EU by its coasts and its outermost regions offers unique opportunities as regards innovation, research, the environment, and biodiversity, which must be taken into account in the integrated maritime policy for the EU, and points out that the outermost regions, moreover, provide excellent communication bases for transport and security purposes at EU and global level;

4.  Emphatically supports the Commission's intention to exploit the potential of short sea shipping and inland waterway transport between the Member States and to integrate this rapidly into the single market and welcomes the Commission's intention to speed up its proposals for a common maritime transport area together with a comprehensive maritime transport strategy for 2008-2018;

5.  Encourages Member States to strengthen cooperation among themselves and with neighbouring countries for the appropriate use of TEN-T and other European financing mechanisms (such as Marco Polo) in order to accomplish the Motorways of the Sea and Short Sea Shipping Networks projects;

6.  Welcomes the Commission's intention to improve coordination with the European agencies responsible for maritime surveillance, underlining especially the prevention of illegal activities (human and drug trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorist threats) with special focus on international waters;

7.  Welcomes the initiative by the Commission to start a European network for maritime surveillance and promote improved cooperation between Member States´ coastguards; calls on the Commission to come up with the results of the feasibility study on a European coastguard, which was due to be published and presented to the Parliament and the Council by the end of 2006;

8.  Takes the view that maritime clusters are particularly well placed to make a contribution to achieving an integrated maritime policy; calls on the Commission to make a prompt start with the project for a European network of maritime clusters;

9.  Supports the proposal to establish an annual 'European Maritime Day' on 20 May; considers that such an action day should be used to highlight the significance of maritime policy outside maritime circles, with the participation of ordinary citizens, schools, universities and non-governmental organisations; reminds the Commission of its proposal for a prize to be awarded to exemplary maritime regions as a way of promoting best practice;

10.  Takes the overall view, however, that the Action Plan includes too few practical measures and encourages the Commission to be more ambitious in future in using the instruments at its disposal under the Treaties;

11.  Regrets the fact that the Action Plan addresses the challenges of climate change only in a non-binding way; reaffirms its view that one task of a European maritime policy has to be to prepare for and to adapt to the consequences of climate change, and, as a matter of urgency, lay down the adjustment measures required, especially in view of the melting of glaciers leading to the rise in sea levels, together with the increased risk of flooding of ports and coastal regions, and in this connection calls for all relevant policies, and in particular research policy, to play their part;

12.  Recalls the fact that the melting of glaciers causes not only a rise in sea levels but also irreparable damage to human, animal and plant life and therefore welcomes the Commission's intention to put forward an Arctic Initiative and calls on the scientific community and decision makers to further explore possibilities for protecting the polar ice caps;

13.  Maintains that sound management of the seas requires sound management of coastal areas and that construction projects on EU coasts must therefore make provision in every case for the consequences of climate change and the resulting rise in the sea level, the erosion of sands, and the increase in the frequency and violence of storms;

14.  Supports the target set by the European Council of March 2007 of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and reaffirms its call for maritime policy to make a substantial contribution to reducing these emissions; this should include incorporating shipping into the emissions trading scheme and enhancing research efforts both with regard to exploiting the seas as a source of renewable energy and with a view to developing cleaner new ship propulsion technologies; considers that if Europe leads the way in combating climate change this could strengthen and develop its leading role in environmental technology and research;

15.  Calls emphatically on the Commission to be more ambitious in combating sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions, as well as solid waste from ships; in this connection, reiterates the need for closer cooperation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and, in particular, its calls for:

   the introduction of nitrogen oxide emission standards for ships using EU ports;
   the designation of the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the North-East Atlantic as Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention);
   the reduction of the maximum permitted sulphur content in marine fuels used in SECAs by passenger vessels from 1,5 % to 0,5 %;
   the introduction of fiscal measures, such as taxes or charges on sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ships and the identification of ways of imposing such measures and charges on all ships, regardless of flag, putting into Community ports or sailing within the waters of EU Member States;
   promotion of the introduction of differentiated harbour and waterway charges to favour ships with low sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions;
   the gradual introduction of a requirement for ships at ports to use land-based electricity
   a proposal for an EU directive on the quality of marine fuels;

16.  Welcomes the measures adopted for satellite monitoring of uncontrolled discharges at sea as practised by certain vessels; calls, nonetheless, for rules to oblige vessels to use inviolable (and patented) devices of the 'black box' type enabling the registration at close intervals of the levels and nature of the liquids entering or leaving tanks and bilges; considers that the examination of such registers would make it possible to determine whether there have been uncontrolled and illegal discharges of residues of polluting fuels;

17.  Reiterates its call on the Member States and the Commission, in view of the air pollution affecting many port towns and regions, to provide significantly better incentives for the provision of land-based electricity for ships in port; calls, therefore, for a proposal for an amendment to Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity(2), whereby those Member States which take advantage of the tax exemption on bunker oil pursuant to Article 14 of that Directive would be required to exempt land-based electricity from tax to the same extent; points out that the equal treatment for tax purposes of electricity and bunker oil would be a major incentive for ports and ship-owners to help reduce air pollution in port towns by investing in the electricity supply for ships in port;

18.  Points out, once again, that land-based pollution of the seas constitutes a significant proportion of overall maritime pollution and that the Commission has so far not got to grips with this issue; therefore reiterates its call for the Commission to put forward an action plan to reduce such pollution, and highlights its call for the Member States to act promptly to transpose the legislation in this field, such as the water framework Directive(3), into national law; stresses that an action plan to identify and remove old munitions from past wars dumped in the North Sea and the Baltic forms part of the transposition of the water framework Directive;

19.  Urges the Commission to help Member States to launch a plan to survey and map wrecked ships and submerged archaeological sites – since these form part of the Community's historic and cultural heritage – and hence to facilitate understanding and the study of such sites and help prevent the despoliation to which they are being subjected, thus enabling them to be properly preserved;

20.  Urges the institutions involved to adopt the Erika III maritime package as quickly as possible and calls on the Member States to start implementing the package without delay, with a view to providing the legal means necessary to avert or remedy accidents or incidents with disastrous consequences for the development of maritime regions, the Erika and the Prestige accidents being two such examples;

21.  Considers that the Marine Strategy Framework Directive(4) should constitute the environmental cornerstone of the integrated maritime policy for the EU; notes that the Directive states that regions in which the state of the sea is critical should draw up and implement faster measures to achieve good environmental status; emphasises that in such regions, it is particularly important that the Commission should coordinate different sectors, programmes and strategies and provide sufficient financial support; points out that in order to achieve such an integrated maritime policy, it is necessary to include land-based activities such as agriculture, waste water management, transport and energy production; believes that such regions can constitute pilot areas for a genuine and fully integrated maritime policy;

22.  Welcomes the Commission's stocktaking with regard to the exclusion of seafarers from a number of areas of European social and labour protection rules (e.g. Directive 98/59/EC(5) on collective redundancies, Directive 2001/23/EC(6) on the safeguarding of employees' rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, businesses or parts of undertakings or businesses, Directive 2002/14/EC(7) on informing and consulting employees and Directive 96/71/EC(8) concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services); proposes that these directives be revised in close cooperation with the social partners;

23.  Urges those Member States which have not yet done so to ratify, as soon as possible, the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, adopted with a view to improving the living and working conditions of seafarers and to preventing unfair competition in the shipping industry by updating and codifying the entire body of international labour standards in force;

24.  Urges the Commission to update Directive 1999/95/EC(9) on seafarers" hours of work, and the legislation on matters falling under the Commission's responsibility but not covered, or covered only in part, at Community level, for instance the rules governing temporary recruitment agencies or a worker's right to have a signed employment contract;

25.  Considers the involvement of regional and local partners to be essential in order to make a success of maritime policy; maintains, therefore, that there must be closer cooperation and interconnection between European coastal regions, to be achieved by promoting coordinated strategies to foster development and competitiveness and by dovetailing the different tiers of governance more effectively;

26.  Renews its call for the approach to an integrated maritime policy for the EU to be continued in future and calls on the Commission to strengthen the political framework thereof, as well as the territorial, social, and economic cohesion providing the link to inland Europe and its constituent policies; proposes that a report on European maritime policy be published every two years and that a regular public exchange of views be held with all those involved; calls on future Council presidencies to deal with maritime policy as part of their work programmes; over and above this, calls for all maritime-related projects supported by EU funding to be clearly identified annually by the Commission;

27.  Welcomes the Commission's initiative to promote negotiations for better management of sea-sharing with third countries and strongly supports the increased cooperation with neighbouring countries for the protection of seas beyond national jurisdictions;

28.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to support actively, in the framework of the UN and the IMO, the initiative promoted by several Member States, to extend the right of sea and air pursuit to the territorial waters of the coastal states, provided the countries concerned agree, as well as to develop a mechanism of mutual assistance against cases of maritime piracy;

29.  Asks the Commission to set up, in the framework of the new Integrated Maritime Policy, a Community system for coordination and mutual assistance, that would allow naval vessels flying the flag of a Member State deployed in international waters, to protect fishing and merchant vessels from other Member States, at the earliest possible opportunity;

30.  Considers that a comprehensive European Strategy for Marine and Maritime research is of major importance and must be properly financed, already within the seventh research framework programme and in future programmes;

31.  Declares itself in favour of maritime policy being given appropriate consideration in the EU budget and instruments after 2013 and calls for this to be reflected in summaries in the regular reports on the European maritime policy;

32.  Also welcomes the recommendation issued by the European Council of 14 December 2007 to the effect that maritime policy should be adapted to the various specific features of the Member States and maritime regions, including coastal regions, islands, and the outermost regions;

33.  Whilst acknowledging the competence of the Member States in this field, awaits with interest the publication by the Commission of a road map to facilitate the development by Member States of maritime spatial planning; points to the need to maintain the appropriate balance between economic, social, territorial, and environmental considerations;

34.  Points out that the exceptional maritime dimension which the coastal regions, islands, and the outermost regions bring to the EU offers unique opportunities as regards innovation, research, the environment, biodiversity, the development of innovative sea-based technologies and other areas, and that the future integrated maritime policy must capitalise on these opportunities; recognises the desirability of setting up centres of excellence and recommends that encouragement and support be given to the university research centres already present in coastal areas;

35.  Points to the importance of wave power as an alternative clean energy source and calls on the Commission to take this form of energy into account in future action plans;

36.  Takes the view that the key objective of the integrated maritime policy for the European Union in the field of fisheries should be to promote the modernisation and sustainable, balanced and fair development of the industry throughout the EU, safeguarding its socio-economic viability and the sustainability of resources and guaranteeing food sovereignty and food security, the supply of fish to the public, job preservation and improved living conditions for fishermen;

37.  Considers that, to date, neither the sustainability of marine resources nor the economic viability of the EU's fishing fleets and coastal communities has been well served by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and that, accordingly, the integrated maritime policy for the European Union should be developed in such a way as to avoid failings in the CFP such as over-centralisation and the failure to take account of the regional diversity of the EU's waters;

38.  Believes that creating more and better seafaring jobs, particularly in the fishing industry, also depends on a guarantee of a fair and adequate income, proper working conditions (including health and safety) and access to training for people working in the industry;

39.  Calls for mutual recognition by the Member States of intermediate diplomas for the occupations of steersman and mechanic for fishing vessels;

40.  Reiterates the need for mechanisms to subsidise or compensate fishermen who are affected by the socio-economic repercussions of stock recovery plans or measures to protect ecosystems, especially in less favoured regions and communities and the outermost regions;

41.  Reiterates the need to boost support for scientific fisheries research in the various Member States, particularly under the seventh research framework programme;

42.  Calls for Community support for the implementation of effective measures to ensure adequate means of evacuation, assistance and rescue for crews;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0343.
(2) OJ L 283, 31.10.2003, p. 51.
(3) OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1.
(4) Texts adopted, 11 December 2007, P6_TA(2007)0595
(5) OJ L 225, 12.8.1998, p. 16.
(6) OJ L 82, 22.3.2001, p. 16.
(7) OJ L 80, 23.3.2002, p. 29.
(8) OJ L 18, 21.1.1997, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 14, 20.1.2000, p. 29.

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