European commission directorate-general for maritime affairs and fisheries

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Directorate E - Baltic Sea, North Sea and Landlocked Member States

MARE.E.1 - Maritime Policy Baltic and North Sea

12th meeting of the Member States Expert Group on Maritime Spatial Planning

Thursday 15 June 2017

St Julian’s, Malta
Draft minutes (version of 26.09.2017)

  1. Opening of MSP Expert Group Meeting

The meeting was opened by Felix Leinemann, Head of Unit, DG MARE.
  1. Procedural Issues

The minutes from the last MSEG meeting (2-3 March 2017) are considered adopted pending the inclusion of comments from Sweden. An updated version of the minutes will be made available on the Maritime Forum.

After welcoming JPI Oceans as new observer, EC informed participants of one new application for the MSEG observer status received from the European Environment Agency. In absence of a reaction from the MS, the European Environment Agency will be invited to attend future MSEG meetings.

EC presented the agenda items of the meeting, organised in different sessions and including discussions on the status of MSP implementation as well as a section dedicated to the ecosystem based approach. Additionally, and following the request formulated during the last MSEG, DG ENV has been invited to attend today's meeting.

EC provided the MSEG members with an overview of ongoing MSP-related projects and funding opportunities. Aiming to support cross-border projects and cooperation among MS, by the end of 2017 EC will launch new transboundary projects for the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Outermost Regions. In the meanwhile, 5 cross-border projects are currently ongoing: 1 in the Black Sea (MARSPLAN), 2 in the Mediterranean (SIMWESTMED and SUPREME) and 2 in the Atlantic (SIMNORAT and SIMCelt). In the Baltic Sea, the recently concluded project BalticScope focused on what aspects MS have to take into account at cross-border level while developing their national maritime spatial plans. Before the summer, EC will submit a proposal to dedicate a share of the next EMFF financial envelope to support MSP cross-border projects across 2018.

UK: invited the EC to keep the MSEG group informed on the decision-making processes linked to the EMFF.

The MSP Assistance Mechanism is one of the tools made available to bring MSP forward. In March, the MSEG adopted the work programme for 2017: it includes a conference dedicated to land-sea interactions, a technical study on “MSP as a tool to support for sustainable Maritime Economic Development” and a wide conference on the same topic in October 2017. The conference agenda has been circulated to the MSEG members.

EC: informed participants of the launching of the 2017 EU-China Blue Year. The opening ceremony took place on 2nd June in Brussels and marked the beginning of a series of activities on ocean matters that aim at fostering closer ties and mutual understanding by bringing together experts from both sides in different locations in China and Europe.

NL: described the very intense discussion held with Chinese scientists and representatives of the Chinese government, which testify China’s interest to cooperate and learn from good practices in the EU and its MS. Exchanges were an opportunity to identify some similarities between Chinese seas and activities occurring in the Baltic sea as this sea basin reportedly faces similar challenges than Chinese waters. Also, specific interest was conveyed on the scientific work underpinning social, economic and environmental assessments for planning. Stakeholder management as well as the ecosystem-based approach were also brought up as issues of mutual interest.

  1. International MSP

EC provided an update on the activities and initiatives concerning international MSP. Published by the European Commission, the “Study on international best practices for cross-border Maritime Spatial Planning” was recently concluded and presented at the IOC-UNESCO Paris conference organised on 15-17 March 2017 in collaboration with DG MARE.

The Final Report of the study is available on both the EC and the MSP Platform websites. In addition, a link will be shared to the MSEG members.

The collaboration with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) led to the adoption of a joint roadmap which identifies common challenges and proposals for actions to be implemented in the coming years while reaching out for collaboration with other UN bodies and Member States. The roadmap was submitted to the UN Conference on SDG 14 (5-9 June 2017) by IOC-UNESCO and DG MARE as part of a joint voluntary commitment highlighting the contribution of MSP to the implementation of Agenda 2030. In this context, voluntary commitments were made by 4 EU MS (Sweden, France, Belgium, Greece) for the sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems through Maritime Spatial Planning. 5 priority areas and 10 concrete actions were identified to accelerate MSP processes worldwide. To kick-off MSP between non-EU MS and build capacity in the region, DG MARE will launch a pilot project in the Pacific region. . Pilot projects are expected to steer guidance for the development of cross-border MSP. An international workshop on international MSP should take place in spring 2018. This year still, the European Commission will host the 2017 edition of "Our Ocean" – the yearly appointment for leaders, public administrators and businesspeople from all over the globe to interact and find workable solutions for the planet's seas and oceans. The conference will be the opportunity for the IOC-UNESCO and DG MARE to present the second part of their joint roadmap. It will take place in Malta on October 5th and 6th.

NL: suggested to circulate a document including all MSP-related commitments taken by MS.

An email will be circulated to the MSEG members containing all MSP-related commitments. The MSP Platform will also ensure appropriate links to the database.

SE: SE welcomes the active work of the Commission and UNESCO to strengthen the work of ecosystem-based MSP globally, and the roadmap for follow-up activities, as well as the planning of a new maritime spatial planning conference. It is important that this expert group continuously follows the work on the roadmap and that we are offered to participate and contribute with proposals for various activities.

Sweden was co-president of The Ocean Conference in NY and this conference was a major advance for a joint effort to reach SDG 14. It was a broad participation from member states, civil society and companies. More than 1,300 voluntary commitments were made at the conference and the adopted document Call for Action mentions MSP as an important tool for implementing SDG 14.

  1. State of Play on the Implementation of the MSP Directive in Member States

EC recalled the timeline applicable to the implementation of the MSP Directive, specifying that default non-notification procedures have been launched for MS who did not notify the reception of the Directive by the September 2016 deadline. DG MARE will send emails to notify the dispatch of official letters to the pertinent MS. EC is currently performing an analysis of the notifications received from the competent national authorities. It will notify MS in case a discrepancy is identified between the represented authorities and those inserted in the notification database. Checks on transposition are being carried out by DG MARE, the General Secretariat and the Legal Service of the European Commission. After that, conformity checks will be performed. With a view to facilitate this phase, EC invites MS to send correlation tables. These will be used by the EC legal experts to examine the transposition of the different requirements of the MSP Directive.

NL: asked for clarifications regarding the procedure applicable to MS that only partially implemented the MSP Directive.

EC: explained that official letters have been dispatched to the MS Permanent Representations. EC will communicate to MS should a divergence be observed between information notified by MS and the information database of the European Commission.

EC to check which countries have been sent official letters and inform the MSEG.

UK: inquired about the expected timeframe for the analysis of the notifications by EC and the consequent communication to MS.

EC: clarified that those MS which have not or only partially notified the transposition of the MSP Directive have already been contacted. At present, EC is analysing the received transposition notices: on the basis of the better regulation rules, it has 18 months starting from the MS notification date to react.

SI: inquired on the possibility to identify one main contact point within the EC to facilitate follow-up.

EC: responded that, although some staff changes are occurring within DG MARE, transposition checks are nevertheless being carried out to ensure that MS are notified possibly within the next two weeks.

DE: the federal law transposing the MSP Directive has been adopted on 29th May 2017 and provides a special focus on the ecosystem-based approach. At the same time, Germany is revising its sectoral planning, with 2 consultation being currently open: one is collecting feedback on the spatial offshore connection infrastructure, while the second one concerns the pre-investigation phase for assigning spatial locations to offshore farms. Germany invited MSEG members to disseminate information on the two public consultations.

FR: the transposition process of the MSP Directive was completed in May 2017 with the entry into force of the implementing decree that followed the approval of the “Law on the recovery of biodiversity” of August 2016. The decree stipulates that ICZM, MSP and MSFD shall be integrated in the 4 strategic documents dedicated to specific French coastal-sea areas. Each area will define the objectives of integrated management of the sea and coastline areas in accordance with the principles and guidelines set by the “National Strategy for the sea and the coastline” approved in February 2017. A Power Point presentation of the French MSP governance system was shared via email prior to the MSEG meeting. As far as the SIMWESTMED project is concerned, a presentation will be ensured by the Malta representative during the MSEG.

A Power Point presentation of the SIMWESTMED project will be shared with the group as Annex to the MSEG minutes.

BG: has finalised the elaboration of the transposition law and will soon appoint the competent authorities in charge of MSP. MSP in the Black Sea was discussed during the conference in Constanta on 3rd and 4th May 2017. Participants included regional experts and public authorities from both EU and non-EU countries who discussed numerous issues including EBA, governance systems and socio-economic analysis.

BE: is progressing on the review of its MSP plan. Recently, an informal consultation led to the collection of some 40 contributions from various stakeholders including NGOs and interested authorities. Formal consultations are expected to start in Autumn 2017 and will later on seek contributions from neighbouring countries. At the same time, Belgium is reaching out to other MS which might face similar demands or have comparable issues of common interest.

GR: the draft law transposing the framework MSP Directive has been drafted. It will receive parliamentary backing once protocols of the Barcelona Convention will have been ratified.

UK: currently, English marine plans are going through a first round of review to ensure they fit the current context and can address actual needs. The Welsh National Marine Plan is well advanced and will soon be put on consultation. As for Scotland, its strategic marine plan will undergo a review phase at the beginning of 2018. For two regions Scotland has developed additional two Scottish plans, the so-called ‘nested plans’, which have been recently established. On 8th November 2017, Glasgow will host the 4th Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference.

DK: provided a short update on the North Sea Energy Initiative agreed by Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Work is progressing well, with the Working Group on MSP currently looking at plans for increased wind energy. In parallel, a review of cumulative impact assessments for future wind power development is being carried out.
  1. Presentation of new observer

The Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans) was established in 2011 as a coordinating and integrating strategic platform, open to all EU Member States and associated countries who invest in marine and maritime research. JPI Oceans covers all European sea basins with 21 participating countries and provides a long-term integrated approach to marine and maritime research and technology development in Europe. In its role as a coordination platform, JPI Oceans focuses on making better and more efficient use of national research budgets, which represent 88% of the research funding within Europe. One of JPI Oceans’ goals is to develop joint research programmes in which countries can be involved on a voluntary basis (variable geometry). Participating countries also decide what contribution to make: this may include institutional, project-related or new funding. The goals and objectives of JPI Oceans address the intersections between the marine environment, climate change and the maritime economy enabled by observations, infrastructure, technologies and human capacities. The strategy of JPI Oceans is defined by its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) which was published in May 2015. The SRIA presents ten strategic areas, developed and agreed by JPI Oceans (with the support of CSA Oceans) as strategic priorities for marine and maritime research in Europe. These include the priority area of science support to coastal and maritime planning and management. To initiate an action, one member country must take the lead and be supported by at least three others. Countries may choose to fund new research or to participate through funding the coordination costs, use of infrastructure or creating open access to data or other forms of contributions considered useful in the joint action. The size and scope of each action will vary depending on the research needs and the method used will depend upon the objective. Among the identified methods which could be used in the actions of JPI Oceans, capacity building has been identified as essential element notably to ensure that interdisciplinary work is carried out. Members of the MSEG are invited to get in touch with JPI Oceans and disseminate results achieved through projects and actions

A PPT presentation of this section is available as Annex to this report.
  1. Presentation of SIMWESTMED

SIMWESTMED is an EMFF funded project that aims at supporting the implementation of MSP in the Western Mediterranean region. Started in January 2017, it will run for two years until end 2018. Co-funded by the European Commission, the project has 11 partners and is built upon a public bodies partnership involving Member States of the area, international organizations, research institutes and national operators for coastal and marine issues. The purpose of SIMWESTMED is to support Member States in the implementation of the MSP Directive and to foster concrete initiatives in cross-border cooperation on MSP in the Western Mediterranean sea basin. The project intends to address practical aspects of MSP implementation, identify and share best practices as well as develop tools to enhance understanding of concrete issues and challenges linked to MSP implementation. Specific objectives aim at promoting a broad understanding of MSP-related issues and spatial demands in the region, promoting cross-border MSP processes, encouraging the collection of data and ensuring the tackling of governance issues. Activities undertaken focus on the development of a methodology for a transboundary MSP as well as on the elaboration of tools and methods supporting stakeholder engagement. The first phase of the process was dedicated to the initial assessment of information and data available on the status of the environment deriving from socio-economic uses and pressures. The mapping also included regional processes supporting transboundary cooperation and should lead to the development of a platform for exchanging data among project partners. In parallel, work is progressing on the development of case studies to test the methodologies elaborated within the project.

A PPT presentation of this section is available as Annex to this report.

Seas at Risk: is pleased to see that data provided in the context of the MSFD implementation serves as a valuable basis for the stock-tacking exercise of the project. The strong link between the MSFD and the MSP directives was discussed during the NGO meeting held on 21st and 22nd February 2017. Are NGOs been involved in the SIMWESTMED project?

SIMWESTMED: confirmed that NGOs are involved in different ways. The project is considering results and lessons learned from projects developed by NGOs or from experiences where NGOs were associated. In addition, NGOs will be closely involved and consulted in the future stakeholder engagement phase.

FR: fully supports the SIMWESTMED project as an opportunity to address cross-border and data sharing issues in the region. French governmental agencies (SHOM – French hydrographic office and FBA – French Biodiversity Agency) are part of the project.

UK: asked whether Gibraltar has been associated to the project.

SIMWESTMED: replied that the opportunity to involve Gibraltar was discussed notably with Spain. Project members are currently discussing options for defining the geographical boundaries of project implementation.

MSP Platform: reminded MSEG members that, as part of the services delivered by the Assistance Mechanism, workshops upon request can be organised in sea-basins, also with a view to link MSP-related projects to other experiences and support the dissemination of project activities and results. A workshop is being organised in the Baltic sea basin and is expected to occur on 3rd July.

MSEG members are encouraged to link up to their focal points from the MSP Platform to know more about workshops upon request.
  1. Ecosystem Based Approach in MSP (1)

    1. The MSFD Directive, Directorate-General for Environment

The following discussions and presentations are based on the “Framing Paper for MSEG meeting: an Ecosystem Based Approach in MSP” which was circulated among the MSEG members prior to the meeting.

Since 2008, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive provides the legislative framework to promote good environmental status of European seas. The text enshrines the ecosystem approach to the management of human activities having an impact on the marine environment, integrating the concepts of environmental protection and sustainable use. The implementation of the Directive can support MSP as it provides for a framework of conservation objectives while informing on the environmental impacts and socio-economic pressures of human activities in national waters. MSP can also rely on the existing community of experts and scientists involved in EBA that can input work on the sustainability of maritime economic activities. One additional characteristic of EBA as featured in the MSFD Directive is its cross-border dimension and hence the promotion of regional cooperation to approach the management of resources and environmental pressures. Finally, the Directive looks at land-sea interactions in an attempt to integrate marine ecosystems with terrestrial planning systems to enable harmonious and sustainable development of the land-sea continuum.

    1. HELCOM-VASAB Guidelines and Baltic SCOPE checklist, Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management

The Guidelines for the implementation of the ecosystem-based approach in MSP in the Baltic Sea area have been prepared by the HELCOM-VASAB MSP Working Group and agreed by HELCOM VASAB at the end of 2015. The joint HELCOM-VASAB Maritime Spatial Planning Working Group has worked since 2010 for regionally coherent regional Maritime Spatial Planning processes in the Baltic Sea. Other guidelines have been developed in particular on the ecosystem-based approach and on transboundary consultations, public participation and cooperation. The first part of the EBA Guidelines provides an overall introduction to the aim and understanding of the context in which the guidelines could be used. The second part sets the framework for planning at sea, taking into consideration the characteristics and challenges faced by the sea basin. As for the third part, it provides an overview of relevant definitions applicable to EBA. The fourth section introduces the policy context of the ecosystem-based approach and in particular the relevant aspects of MSP in the Baltic sea. In the fifth chapter, the key elements for applying EBA in MSP are presented. These include principles such as: best available knowledge and practice, precaution, mitigation and adaptation. The sixth and seventh parts present considerations on the available knowledge on the Baltic sea ecosystem and the description of MSP respectively.

Another set of guidelines were developed in the context of the Baltic SCOPE project. The Baltic SCOPE project brought together Maritime Spatial Planning authorities and regional sea organisations to find the planning solutions to transboundary issues and improve the MSP processes. One of the outputs of the project was the development of a toolbox to facilitate the use of the ecosystem approach in MSP. The toolbox contains three checklists: one on the general EBA approach, a second one aimed at supporting the planning phase, and a last checklist to be used when preparing the strategic impact assessment. The fact that partner countries filled out the checklists themselves allowed for the identification of differences and common views between the six countries.

A PPT presentation of this section is available as Annex to this report.
    1. The Wales EBA study, Marine Conservation Society

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK's leading charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife. Members of MCS include Seas at Risk and the Wales Environment Link. Wales is at a critical stage of its marine plan development: a public consultation will be held this summer before the formal plan adoption expected in 2018. As part of the process, MCS has been supporting the Welsh Government with evidence-based research and will contribute to the upcoming stakeholder engagement phase. The Wales National Marine Plan is based on 12 principles which are complementary and interlinked. In the marine planning context, the ecosystem-based approach recognizes the need of an ecological approach to manage seas and to grant the environmental dimension equal footing with economic and societal needs in sustainability assessment. The analysis of some existing plans (mainly the English, Scottish and regional plans) highlighted the positive contributions of EBA to the following –but not only – factors: the conservation of ecosystems, the improvement of public participation and the development of long-term visions setting the strategic levels for the recovery of ecosystems and for the reduction of impacts on biodiversity. Stakeholder involvement is one of the key elements of EBA. It implies the development of an interactive two-way exchange process between regulators and stakeholders. In Wales, a stakeholder reference group was established to provide feedback to early draft policy with a view to ensure that the plans account for society’s views and respond to real needs. The plan presents a 20 year long-term vision to balance the needs for economic growth and society’s health and wellbeing. To ensure such balance, environmental resilience needs to be ensured through the sustainable management of natural resources and the management of ecosystems within the boundaries of their environmental limits. According to Marine Conservation Society, marine plans can further support EBA by ensuring robust evidence-based appreciation of how and where habitats and species use the marine plan area. Another way to use EBA for ensuring good environmental status is to identify the migratory corridors and the areas of recovery and enhancement. Clearly more can be done to protect biodiversity beyond MPAs, including mapping sensitivity and constraints, assessing the environmental limits and identifying the ecosystem goods and services of marine areas.

A PPT presentation of this section is available as Annex to this report.

UK: clarified that the long-term vision mentioned in the Wales marine plan is embedded in the UK's marine policy governmental objectives which were translated in individual plans. The overarching vision for the UK marine area complements the application of marine plans and supports planners in taking informed decisions on the activities that can take place in the marine area. The visions could be used for inspiration by those MS which are now in the process of developing their plans.

EC: invited the MSEG to share views on the use and replicability of the HELCOM-VASAB guidelines and the Baltic SCOPE checklist in other sea basins. Participants were encouraged to share other approaches and tools used when applying the ecosystem-based approach, also in relation to MPAs.

NL: highlighted the importance of evidence-based information and research when discussing MSP and MSFD issues. It is of crucial importance to improve knowledge of ecosystems and identify environmental knowledge gaps.

EC: although the MSP Directive requires MS to develop maritime plans, countries may do so by using different plan development and environmental assessment approaches.

MCS: all in all, the application of EBA can advise planners beyond the identification of knowledge gaps. It can in fact bring the MSFD agenda forward and identify concrete solutions to address shortcomings.

IE: stressed the importance of approaching ecosystem elements and maritime activities into a single system. In this sense, EBA is a valid support across different legal instruments. Duplication should be avoided, especially in relation to what has already been done by sea conventions, notably their work on the interaction between human activities and the ecosystem. The validity of the HELCOM-VASAB guidelines could be tested in other sea basins. The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the ‘OSPAR Convention') will produce an assessment of the region in an effort of identifying how EBA is understood by policy makers and society.

DG ENV: informed that intermediate regional reports for the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic sea basins will be published in 2018. As for the MSFD Directive, it includes 11 descriptors to assess pressures of the activities that are relevant to achieving good environmental status (GES). Defining the sustainability levels of uses will help preserving the oceans for future generations. Although planning tools can only partially address all ecosystem components, cross-border cooperation is promoting convergence towards acceptable activity levels while contributing to make informed decisions. The Commission Decision on good environmental status of marine waters, adopted on 17 May 2017, contains a number of criteria and methodological standards for determining good environmental status, in relation to the 11 descriptors of good environmental status laid down in the MSFD Directive. The Decision also contains specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessing marine waters. The Decision is a major stepping stone to establish precise objectives for the achievement of GES within the implementation of the MSFD, thereby providing a picture of the extent to which good environmental status is achieved in the EU's seas and oceans. Clearly, situations differ widely: some areas are characterised by high activity levels, while others undergo lower pressures which makes environmental assessments easier to measure. DG ENV has long been committed to support countries in delivering quality assessments and promoting convergence across regions. Although efforts still need to be made, progress is visible and should allow to move forward after 2021.

SE: agreed that the EBA guidelines could be used for inspiration in other sea basins. To bring discussions further, however, regional actors should be involved in such exchanges as the regional level is where harmonised interpretation is a value added. However one of the key challenges when developing MSP is to ensure inter-sectoral participation and commitment, also between authorities and agencies in charge of MSFD and MSP. The MSFD promotes the use of good environmental status threshold which should be used in MSP for identifying the environmental goals of planned areas. Such interdependency is also witnessed by today’s presence of DG ENV as a way to ensure links between environmental concerns and economic development. As far as the regional sea conventions are concerned, their involvement in MSP varies greatly.

UK: suggested to look at the practical use of HELCOM-VASAB guidelines and the Baltic SCOPE checklist. Although the UK national perspective is already embedded in other pieces of legislation, the use of indicators and checklists could be considered as a value added. The non-binding nature of the presented documents did not prevent participating countries to successfully cooperate. Although focus may often be on the immediate benefits, measures are likely to evolve with time. In this sense it is important to build in as much flexibility as possible in the application of the ecosystem-based approach.

IT: stated that the most crucial element is the consideration of EBA across the implementation of both directives. Clearly objectives shall be formalised and embedded in the legislative document notified to the EC which sets goals for each relevant governance level. Nevertheless, process is also crucial: the environmental assessment shall be considered as part of a wider process towards meeting the overall strategic objectives in compliance with the MSP process. These two levels represent the core approach to ensure compliance with and coordination between both directives. While the MSFD fixes the targets on how to achieve the EBA in marine waters, MSP represents the main tool for planning activities and measuring impacts. During the second cycle of MSFD implementation, the expectation is that the tacking stock exercise will lead to using planning results for accompanying GES beyond 2020. Nevertheless, the continuous feedback between MSFD and MSP should also be made more systematic within and by EC services. One option that could be taken into consideration is the scheduling of a joint meeting between the two expert groups to coordinate respective activities and fix common goals for the successful implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy at the EU level.

DE: specified that Germany does not face a shortage of data. Nevertheless, available knowledge appears to evolve less rapidly than the availability and collection of data. In the area of EBA, one missing element is the understanding of cause-effect information to inform future planning development. HELCOM-VASAB guidelines and the Baltic SCOPE checklist deliberately focus on the procedural aspects linked to EBA. The region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern adopted a similar approach and decided to follow existing procedural steps. Indeed, knowledge on the effects of human activities on the ecosystem is still lacking and will most likely not be completely addressed in the near future. This is why, it appears appropriate for the moment to focus on the procedural aspects of EBA application.

GR: indicated that the use of EBA guidelines in the Mediterranean would need to comply with the application of the Barcelona Convention, its guiding principles and applicable protocols, especially the one on Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

MT: suggested that some strategic elements of the EBA guidelines and toolbox could be considered for application in the Mediterranean context and possibly tested at the level of individual MS. The Maltese experience suggests that the strength of the plan depends on the type and amount of available information. In this sense, the absence or limited availability of environmental information can substantially constrain development in the area. Hopefully the monitoring results obtained from the application of the MSFD Directive will help the gathering of knowledge and process steering.

FR: presented its approach of implementing both directives in a simultaneous and integrated way. This choice is aimed at facilitating the analysis of all relevant elements at stake (environmental, societal, economic, etc..) to feed a cross-cutting analysis that will serve as a basis for developing compromises – at the level of individual plans - between issues and challenges.

Seas at Risk: indicated that the ‘Catch 22’1 could explain the application of the precautionary principle. One of the questions arising is how planners deal with alternative developments and how decisions can be taken in case of uncertain or wrong data.

IE: referred to the licence exploration lots made available for hydrocarbon reserves. Such approach is meant to ensure that licensing takes place while ensuring environmental safety. To do so, coordination is necessary between relevant actors including environmental authorities and the licencing agency. In Ireland, the use of data baseline ensured that the industry -which is also associated to the process - could better understand the licensing conditions applied for the area. Alternatively, different licensing periods can also be used to manage activities.

EC: advised MSEG participants to prioritise the definition and details of discussions before scheduling a joint meeting with the MSFD Expert Group. EBA discussions will continue at tomorrow’s meeting, during which indicators for Blue Growth and the Working Programme for 2018 will also be discussed.


1 AN: ‘Catch 22’ is a dilemma according to which the permission to experiment is denied until such time as clear, rigorous and unequivocal scientific evidence is available, but permission to undertake the work that might produce such evidence also is denied.

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