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EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

Theme coordinator:
Pierpaolo Campostrini (CORILA /
EUCC Italy, Venice, IT)

The EUCC Marine Team aims to support the assessment and definition of Good Environmental Status (GES) by exchanging knowledge and experience across the EU.

The sixth Environment Action Programme of the European Community (6th EAP 2002-2012) considered the development of a strategy on the protection and conservation of the marine environment as a priority. In November 2005, after an extensive consultation process, the European Commission adopted the “Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment” (COM(2005) 504 final), which aims to promote sustainable use of the seas and to conserve marine ecosystem. As proposed in the Thematic Strategy, in June 2008, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament adopted the “Marine Strategy Framework Directive” – MSFD (2008/56/EC), which represents the environmental pillar of the new EU Maritime Integrated Policy. The main objective of the Directive is to achieve a Good Environmental Status (GES) of the marine environment by 2020. Member States have to develop marine strategies in close cooperation with other Member States and third countries that share the same waters.

Plan of action to achieve a Good Environmental Status by 2020:

July 2012:
  • Initial assessment of the environmental status
  • Definition of Good Environment Status, including the establishment of a series of environmental targets and indicators
July 2014
  • Establishment and implementation of a Monitoring Programme
July 2015
  • Designed a programme of measures to achieve or maintain a good environmental status
July 2016
  • Implementation of the programme of measures

The Directive foresees a “two levels” approach (Global -Regional): to set out common principles and objectives, which have to be implemented at regional level. In line with this approach, the Directive establishes four marine regions:
- the Baltic sea
- the Black Sea
- the North East Atlantic Ocean
- the Mediterranean sea

The first step for an effective Directive implementation is to establish what Good Environmental Status means, starting from the general definitions of the descriptors set out in the Directive (Annex 1 ). Therefore, the European Commission (DG Environment), in close cooperation with Member States, Marine Regional Conventions and stakeholder organizations, is now committed to develop common criteria and methodological standards for defining GES across Europe.

EUCC, as Secretariat of the Venice Platform, is closely involved in the new EU Integrated Maritime Policy, providing a forum of dialogue between the Commission and the stakeholder organisations on the development and implementation of different sectorial maritime policies. The EUCC Marine Team, established as a think thank in the field of marine management and maritime planning, supports DG Environment in the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive at EU level. EUCC Marine Team has been invited to participate, on the behalf of the Venice Platform, to the Working Group on Good Environmental Status and to the Working Group on Data, Information and Knowledge Exchange, in order to ensure an appropriate stakeholder involvement at all levels where MSFD-related activities are taking place (national, (sub-)regional, EU-level). CORILA in Venice is acting as secretariat for the Working Group on GES in the name of Venice Platform, too, in close cooperation with EUCC.

EUCC as well as the Venice Platform are participating in the discussions of the Working Group on GES. In support of the ongoing efforts, EUCC has provided written input to the discussion on descriptors 4 (foodweb), 10 (marine litter) and 11 (energy), in a letter of 12 February 2010. All EUCC members are invited to send us their comments on the documents and issues open for discussion in the next WG GES, which will take place in Brussels, on the 29th March. For access to documents or for any other queries on this matter, please contact the EUCC officers who are dealing with the Marine Strategy: Marije Siemensma, Joana Maria Veiga.


Marine Strategy of the European Commission
European Commission, DG Mare
Venice Platform Declaration