Integrated Maritime Policy
Fresh impetus to IMP
By Anne Eckstein | Thursday 12 July 2012
Five years on from the launch of the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP), the government of Cyprus has decided to give fresh impetus to a policy seen as one of the pillars of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy. This drive to invigorate the IMP, which the Cyprus Presidency sees as one of its top priorities, is expected to find expression in the adoption of a political declaration at an informal ministerial conference, the ‘Limassol declaration’.
To make this goal a reality, the Presidency will bring together, on 8 October in Nicosia and Limassol, the ministers with responsibility for maritime affairs from the 27 member states, Croatia, Norway and Iceland, together with representatives of the European Parliament, for an informal “conference” (rather than an informal Council) that will also include the participation of the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Maria Damanaki.
Set up in 2007 under the Portuguese EU Presidency and championed by Maltese Commissioner Joe Borg, the IMP highlights the huge economic development potential of the sea and its related activities, while stressing the necessity of safeguarding the marine environment. Its ambition is to strike a fair balance between various human sea-based activities, to give each its rightful place in terms of the use of available space (in the policy’s spatial planning component), economic development and environmental protection.
This development potential is particularly obvious for an island country like Cyprus, which sees it as an important tool for sustainable development, economic growth and social cohesion. The Commission’s publication, in September 2012, of a communication on a ‘blue growth’ initiative, and in the autumn of a first report on implementation of the IMP, will offer a not-to-be-missed opportunity to spotlight and breathe new life into this policy.
The ‘blue growth’ initiative aims to integrate the maritime economy into the 2020 strategy for growth and jobs. It is expected to make up one of the fundamental elements of the ‘Limassol declaration’, which will also cover the advances made on actions already taken under the IMP in the different sectors concerned (fisheries, transport, energy, tourism, external cooperation, including regional and maritime surveillance) and will identify and update the top priorities of the IMP for the coming years.
This text, which will be purely political, may take on more official value if, as the Presidency hopes, it is subsequently endorsed in conclusions adopted at the December General Affairs Council.