Commissioner Borg to promote cooperation on Mediterranean maritime issues
Brussels, Belgium – Joe Borg, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, will attend tomorrow an international conference in PortoroÅ¾, Slovenia, to open a debate on the maritime-related challenges and opportunities for the Mediterranean Sea basin. The discussions will focus on cooperation and governance in a variety of maritime sectors and activities such as environment, sea transport, surveillance and research. Closer cooperation in these areas between EU and non-EU countries in the region, as well as increased collaboration between sectoral players, will be the leitmotivs. The conference, organised by the Slovenian Presidency of the EU, the European Commission and the University Centre for Euro-Mediterranean Studies in Piran, will be an important step towards applying the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy in the regional context.
"I believe that maritime governance needs to be improved in order to ensure efficient collaboration in the Mediterranean region, which presents a number of challenging specificities and great opportunities. The complex challenges faced by the region must be addressed together by all the Mediterranean states, EU and non-EU alike," said Commissioner Borg.
Indeed, the Mediterranean region is an enclosed and heavily-used sea, which in some areas is stretched to the limit of sustainability. Its waters are subject to a number of regulatory systems, including those originating from multilateral organisations, international conventions, the European Union and EU Member States, candidate countries and other partner Mediterranean countries. The relatively small size of the Mediterranean Sea and limited exchange of waters with the Atlantic Ocean makes its environment vulnerable to pollution, especially with 30% of the world’s maritime transport passing through. The maritime transport in the region is also the source of additional challenges in terms of maritime safety or competition among Mediterranean ports. Furthermore, scientific and research resources need to be pooled together to foster economic growth and generate innovative solutions.
At EU level, much is being done already, such as the Motorways of the Sea initiative, the maritime safety packages, or joint operations to fight illegal immigration. New tools are also being developed in the framework of the Integrated Maritime Policy, for example a pilot project will shortly be launched in the Western Mediterranean to test and enhance the interoperability of the maritime surveillance systems in use.
The Commission is also seeking the advice of the stakeholders from the region. A consultation on the shape and scope of the Integrated Maritime Policy in the Mediterranean is open until 27 July 2008 and the preliminary results will be presented at the conference in PortoroÅ¾.
During his visit to Slovenia, Commissioner Borg will also attend the founding ceremony of the Euro-Mediterranean University based in PortoroÅ¾, which is itself a good example of cross-border cooperation in the region. José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša as President of the European Council and Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament, will be inaugurating this University.
The Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU aims to explore synergies and avoid overlaps between existing sectoral policies that deal with sea-related issues. As Europe’s oceans and seas are the resource-base for a number of activities, such as shipping, fisheries, offshore energy, and tourism, enhanced coordination is essential, both between different sectors and on local, regional, national and transnational levels.
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