Proposed MSP Directive for EU - an unnecessary agenda for 'smart' blue growth?

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By Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London, P.J.Jones [at] ucl.ac.uk

The European Commission have published the ‘agreed text’ of a draft Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (attached). Further information at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-210_en.htm?subweb=347&lang=en and http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-222_en.htm?subweb=347&lang=en

The MSP Directive is essentially about promoting Blue Growth under the Integrated Maritime Policy and it neglects the framework nature of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). An MSP Directive complicates the policy landscape and, arguably by design, provides for Member States to focus on Blue Growth whilst potentially neglecting MSFD, Habitats Directive, etc, especially in the present economic climate. The contributions that MSP could make to achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) of Europe's seas under the MSFD, such as cross-border assessments of cumulative impacts and the efficient planning of infrastructure in an integrated manner between member states, are neglected or omitted. A retrograde step for achieving GES? Hopefully, the same Members of the European Parliament (MEP) influences that are leading to an improved Common Fisheries Policy can thwart or revise this DG MARE (EC department responsible for maritime economic development and fisheries management) attempt  to do the unnecessary – legally ‘encourage’ Member States to pursue ‘smart’ (?) Blue Growth.

The open access paper freely available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2012.10.010 is particularly relevant to this argument in that it analyses the emerging policy landscape for MSP in the EU and critically questions the need for and potential role of an MSP Directive aimed mainly at promoting blue growth.