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Benefits and impediments for the integrated and coordinated management of European seas

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JournalMarine Policy
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Sep 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2017
DatePublished (current) - Dec 2017
Pages (from-to)206-213
Early online date6/10/17
Original languageEnglish


New multi-sectoral policies with a regional implementation are developed when maritime states recognise the importance of managing the marine environment under an ecosystem-perspective rather than a use-perspective. In Europe, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the first attempt to promote an integrated management of the seas from the coastline to the limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone. This paper shows that, nine years from the MSFD adoption, there remain several ecological, economic, social and governance challenges. Using information gathered in a dedicated survey of the European Union Marine Strategy Coordination Group and in the recent literature the paper identifies the obstacles preventing a successful regional cooperation and policy integration. The survey indicates that the MSFD coordination structures are, in general, well-developed but there is an apparent lack of political will to coordinate actions at the regional level. Member States request greater flexibility to implement the Directive but they put their national interests before the benefit of a coherent and integrated approach for the entire region. Differences in budget, economic sector predominance, lack of staff and the MSFD short time-scale are identified as the factors that can hamper cooperation. These have produced recommendations of possible strategies for optimising regional coordination structures which respect the subsidiarity principle underpinning the MSFD.

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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Regional coordination, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Policy integration, Integrated management, Marine governance

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