Integrated Maritime Policy
Cyprus wants IMP to have ambitious budget
By Anne Eckstein | Thursday 28 June 2012
Speaking for the first time on maritime issues before Cyprus takes over the Presidency of the EU, George Christofi, counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Cyprus to the EU, underlined the importance of allocating an ambitious budget to maritime policy because “the IMP is one of the most powerful tools for achieving the aims of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy”. He called for “the involvement of local communities and society in the development of maritime activities”. Christofi was addressing MEPs and stakeholders during a seminar, organised on 27 June, by the Seas and Coastal Areas Intergroup at the European Parliament. He also took the opportunity to confirm that an informal ministerial conference on the IMP will be held in Cyprus, on 8 October.
“Is the IMP on the right track?” MEPs and the panel, which included Lowri Evans, director-general of DG MARE, did not really respond to this question. However, they underlined that the IMP, while being a ‘young’ policy (at barely two years old) has already - despite a very restricted budget - produced results.
Corinne Lepage (ALDE, France), president of the intergroup, emphasised at the start of the conference that “the IMP cannot ignore social and environmental questions because these two elements are vectors of added value and give the policy meaning”.
Speaking for the Commission, Evans stressed that the development of the IMP must be strengthened in order to contribute to growth.
“We are at a crossroads,” she said, emphasising that, at the end of the first phase of implementation of the IMP, good results have already been produced. However, she added: “The maritime sector is capable of making a much more significant contribution to growth than it currently does”. She pointed to sectors that have been identified as having a high potential for innovation, job creation and therefore growth, including: cruises and tourism, energy (off-shore wind and tidal energy), halieutic resources, and research and innovation.
“The next ten years will be crucial, but the future is being built today. The Commission has a clear programme until 2020, which will be presented in September in the form of a strategy for ‘blue growth’,” said Evans, linking this initiative to other actions in and around the maritime sector: the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the development of successful aquaculture, the increased role of the regions and local authorities, and at the legislative level, the proposal on the planning of maritime space, which the Commission is due to present at the end of the year. The Commission called on businesses (particularly SMEs) and the European Parliament to support this exercise, particularly in order to obtain sufficient funding, which is “indispensable” to the realisation of these goals.
“This conference should be considered as a great opportunity. Europe cannot afford to be timid in the strengthening of its maritime agenda and in its willingness to involve all policies which contribute to it,” said Henrik Ringbaek Madsen, regional adviser, president of international affairs for the Nordjylland Région in Denmark and a member of the political office of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR). Madsen emphasised the importance of the regional approach for good management of basins, suggesting that the example of what is being done in the Baltic Sea could be followed.
MEPs Jan Kozlowski (EPP, Poland), Gesine Meissner (ALDE, Germany), and Kriton Arsenis (S&D, Greece) emphasised the potential of the marine economy in the regions and coastal zones, the need for adequate financing, the importance of not prioritising the economy over the environment, and the need for greater consideration of the specific characteristics of islands. In this regard, Arsenis, a member of the Committee on Fisheries (PECH), called on the Commission to implement the provisions on insularity contained in the Lisbon Treaty.