Capacity Building and the Green Paper for a EU Maritime Policy

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Principles of good governance suggest the need for a European maritime policy that embraces all aspects of the oceans and seas. This policy should be integrated, intersectoral and multidisciplinary, and not a mere collection of vertical sectoral policies...

Continued investments in knowledge and skills are key factors for maintaining competitiveness and ensuring quality jobs.

At the core of a new maritime policy must be the building of a mutual understanding and a common vision among all the decision-makers and players of the various policies impacting on oceans and seas, including maritime transport and ports, fisheries, integrated coastal zone management, regional policy, energy policy and marine research and technology policies. This means joining the dots between different policies with a view to achieving the common goal of economic expansion in a sustainable manner, which is the key challenge of a future Maritime Policy.

Given the interaction of coastal and maritime issues across the land-sea interface, an overall EU maritime policy has a major stake in the success of ICZM. Consideration should therefore be given to an EU-wide mechanism for comparative analysis and an exchange of best practice.

Source: Green Paper - Towards a future Maritime Policy for the Union : a European vision for the oceans and seas, COM(2006)275 (from now on ECMP 2006)

Human development

Regarding human development and based on the results of the EC Employment Report, an entire section of the Green Paper is dedicated to the development of Europe's maritime skills and expanding sustainable maritime employment, which focuses on the need to attract highly qualified seafarers, particularly officers, pilots, engineers, shipyard managers, ship safety inspectors and instructors. Furthermore, considering the decline of European personnel taking jobs aboard vessels and its relevance for the survival of the maritime industry, the Green Paper recognizes that one of the main challenges of the future maritime policy is that of supporting the management of change, to facilitate retraining and professional reorientation, including cases of restructuring and job losses (ECMP 2006, p.20).

The Green Paper does also recognize that if Europe is to rise to the challenge of finding a better relationship with the oceans, not only the industrial sectors will need to innovate, but also policy-makers. To regulate maritime activities there is a need to develop both universally applicable rules and more specific ones that account for each part of the oceans and seas. In this regard, the main challenge to policy-makers -explicitly stated in the Green Paper-, lies in the global nature of the oceans, where universally applicable rules need to leave enough room for the more specific ones that better suit the different management requirements of each part of the oceans and seas. This leads to both complementarity and competition between nations (ECMP 2006, p.6).

In sum, the Green Paper focuses on the importance of developing knowledge and skills as key factors for maintaining competitiveness and ensuring quality jobs, as well as improved working conditions and career prospects. However, it falls short in the identification of the specific knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes necessary for tackling particular tasks in e.g. ecosystem management, or for the formulation of integrated policies.

New human capacity building needs may be identified within two major areas. First, sectoral-associated human development needs such as tourism, ports and energy. In this case, in addition to new skills related to a particular sector, the individuals should be trained into the cross-sectoral elements of the new maritime policy and how they impinge into their respective sectors. Second is the development of training courses and/or educational resources in cross-sectoral, integrated approaches and professional skills. This is the case, for instance, when the Green Paper states that a comprehensive system of spatial planning should be put into place as soon as possible for European coastal waters in order to set up a stable regulatory environment for sectors such as shipping, port infrastructure and offshore resource exploitation, including fisheries, where large investments are being made in innovative products designed to last for many years (ECMP 2006, p.23). Clearly, both spatial planners and managers should be adequately trained with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes (K/S/A) to be able to deal with the complexity of developing such an integrated system and with the different issues that will emerge during its implementation against a culture of sectoral, competitive and non-coordinated institutional structures.

Institutional development

The new vision proposed in the Green Paper will not be feasible without a reform of the institutions. There are several dimensions regarding institutional development: one at the EU level, and the other at the national/regional/local level. The Green Paper considers that in the EU, the above stated principles can be implemented partly through existing institutions, including the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions. Nevertheless, it also recognizes that appropriate cross sectoral bodies will have to complement the existing sectoral advisory bodies set up by the Council or the Commission.

The Green Paper also stresses the need for the Commission to continue taking steps towards strengthening its internal coordination on ocean and sea affairs in order to allow for a further integration of policies. In this regard, it offers the example of a structure at the level of the UN, where the UN-Oceans office has been created to better coordinate ocean-related policies in twelve different countries.

At the European level, however, it will be more beneficial to build on better interaction between existing institutes than to develop extra agencies as suggested by the Green Paper (by using the UN-Oceans office example). Nevertheless, any initiative to get the coast and the sea into the European Agenda should be encouraged (Van der Wegen, M., personal communication).

At the national level, and according to the definition by the Urban Capacity Building Network, “institutional development” involves regulatory changes that enable organizations, institutions and agencies at all levels and in all sectors to enhance their capacities. The Green Paper proposes a regulatory framework that places a particular premium on participation by stakeholders in the rule-making process (ECMP 2006, p.24). All those involved in the different agencies and countries must take the appropriate action proposals. To keep decisions at a level closest to the stakeholders, action at the EU level should be undertaken only where it adds value to the activities of others. The capacity building process should also be considered within, and take advantage of this type of regulatory framework, based on local ownership and supported by equal partnership.

Awareness raising

The importance of awareness raising is well recognized in the document. Following the Commission’s belief that there is much to be gained by encouraging a sense of common maritime identity, the Green Paper hopes to contribute to a new awareness among Europeans of the greatness of their maritime heritage, the importance of the oceans in their lives and their continued potential to provide us with increased wellbeing and economic opportunities (ECMP 2006, p.6).

Expected benefits of this ‘new awareness’ are an increase of both job creation and stakeholder participation: a better perception of maritime activities, an appreciation of their potential, which will result in a greater interest in choosing a maritime related career. A sense of common identity may well be one important side effect of bringing stakeholders together to participate in maritime planning processes.

The Green Paper reflects upon the current role of the existing platforms (see Informal Capacity Building) such as aquariums, maritime museums, and NGOs, and proposes new actions. It proposes a series of measures (such as awards for institutions, inventories of archaeological sites, the EU Atlas for the Sea) to reclaim the maritime heritage of Europe, which will lead to a better understanding of the importance of the oceans and seas and their contribution to our health and well being, both physically, psychologically and economically. It also suggests the development of synergies between EU member states and the different companies both private and public and NGOs, working in this area, to help increase the number of activities in this sector. These actions will lead not only to better and more adjusted policy making, but also to the development of a common vision of the role of the oceans in our lives and the need to maintain and restore this element for our future wellbeing.

Further reading

See also Consultation on Maritime Policy: the issue of Capacity Building

External links

Conclusions from the Consultation on a European Maritime Policy

Roadmap for Capacity Building for ICZM

List of articles on Capacity Building for ICZM
Capacity Building Network main page
The main author of this article is Garriga, Maica
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Garriga, Maica (2013): Capacity Building and the Green Paper for a EU Maritime Policy. Available from [accessed on 19-06-2019]