The introduction to the Joint Communication addressed to the European Parliament and the Council says it all about Europe’s maritime significance:
“Europe’s maritime interests are fundamentally linked to the well-being, prosperity and security of its citizens and communities. Some 90% of the EU’s external trade and 40% of its internal trade is transported by sea. The EU is the third largest importer and the fifth global producer of fisheries and aquaculture. More than 400 million passengers pass through EU ports each year. It depends on open, safe seas and oceans for free trade, transport, tourism, ecological diversity, and for economic development. Failing to protect against a wide array of maritime threats and risks may result in the seas and oceans becoming arenas for international conflicts, terrorism or organised crime.”
Currently undergoing the consultation process within the EU, this this joint communication presents a vision of the Union’s maritime security interests and threats, and proposes the areas in which cooperation between various maritime players can be enhanced beyond what is already good practice today. It encompasses all maritime functions, from coastguards to navies, port authorities and customs duty officers and would affect the EU waters as well as each ship sailing under an EU Member State flag and have a global reach. This document serve as a basis for the work with Member States towards a full-fledged EU maritime security strategy.
The purpose of the new strategy is to identify the maritime interests of the EU such as prevention of conflicts, protection of critical infrastructure, effective control of external borders, the protection of the global trade support chain and the prevention of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. It spells out the multitude of risks and threats the EU and its citizens may be confronted with: territorial maritime disputes, maritime piracy, terrorism against ships and ports or other critical infrastructure, organised sea-borne crime and trafficking up to potential impacts of natural disasters or extreme events.
An EU maritime security strategy would facilitate a strategic, cross-sectoral approach to maritime security, without seeking to create new structures, programmes or legislation, but instead striving to build upon and strengthen existing achievements, at the same time ensuring consistency with existing EU policies.
The purpose of this strategy would be achieved by pursuing the following four strategic objectives:
– make best use of existing capabilities at national and European level;
– promote effective and credible partnerships in the global maritime domain;
– promote cost efficiency;
– enhance solidarity among Member States.
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