The European Union has decided to celebrate the achievements
and potential of Europe's ocean and seas by declaring 20 May
as a dedicated 'European Maritime Day'.
The official launch ceremony will be held in Strasbourg,
where Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Council
President Janez Jana and the President of the European Parliament,
Hans-Gert Pöttering will sign a Joint Tripartite Declaration.
European Maritime Day will provide an occasion to highlight
the crucial role that oceans and seas play in the everyday
life - not only of coastal communities, but of all EU citizens
and for Europe's sustainable growth and jobs at large. Based
on a proposal from the Commission, this dedicated Maritime
Day will also encourage better stewardship of coastal zones,
seas and oceans by all citizens and actors concerned.
"The sea, the maritime sectors and marine resources are essential
for Europe's prosperity and well-being. By setting up a European
Maritime Day, we, as Europeans, want to celebrate this reality
and to raise awareness about maritime opportunities and our
new Integrated Maritime Policy" - said the President of the
European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.
"Setting aside a special day each year to mark the importance
of the oceans and seas, is a way to promote the well-being
and welfare of all Europeans in this era of globalisation"
- stated Joe Borg, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
"It is an idea that received broad support throughout the
consultation process on the new Integrated Maritime Policy."
The Commission hopes that citizens and stakeholders living
and working in Europe's maritime regions will seize this occasion
to showcase their contribution to the EU as a whole and to
stimulate broad debate around the challenges they face.
The first ever European Maritime Day on 20th May 2008 will
see the European Parliament vote on a report on the EU's Integrated
Maritime Policy. The report highlights, inter alia,
the exceptional maritime dimension conferred on the EU by
its extensive coastline, islands and outermost regions.
It also underlines the unique opportunities offered by the
maritime sector as regards innovation, research, environment
and biodiversity - calling for these to be fully taken into
account in the emerging Integrated Maritime Policy. Furthermore,
the report stresses how the involvement of regional and local
partners is essential to making a success of the maritime
policy and advocates closer cooperation between Europe's coastal
In parallel, the European Commission will hold a Stakeholder
Conference in Brussels on 19 and 20 May, open to the press.
The programme includes keynote interventions by European Commissioner
for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg, Member of the
European Parliament and Integrated Maritime Policy Rapporteur
Willi Piecyk, and 1st Vice-President of the Committee of the
Regions and Mayor and MP of Dunkirk Michel Delebarre.
There will be a Ministerial Panel headed by the Slovenian
Presidency in which members of the Governments of France,
Germany, Portugal and Norway will participate. Discussions
will focus on how to promote continued stakeholder dialogue
in support of the development of an Integrated Maritime Policy
and ensure that the new policy is fully adapted to the regional
dimension of maritime affairs.
Since the proposal of an Integrated Maritime Policy by the
European Commission on October 2007 - and its subsequent endorsement
by Heads of State and Government at the European Council of
14 December 2007 - real progress has been made towards building
a coherent framework to promote synergies and resolve potential
conflicts between different sea-related policy areas.
In line with the detailed Action Plan published in October,
the Commission itself has already come forward with proposals
to combat illegal fishing, boost development of EU ports and
port cities, reassess the social framework regulating seafaring
jobs, and promote a better fit between energy policy and maritime
It has also carried out a stock-taking exercise looking at
maritime surveillance systems and the offshore activities
and competences of the Member States.
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