The Atlantic Strategy

The Atlantic Strategy and its Action Plan

In 2011 the European Commission adopted an Atlantic Maritime Strategy in response to repeated calls from stakeholders for a more ambitious, open and effective cooperation in the Atlantic Ocean Area. The strategy, consistent with the EU 2020 agenda and its flagship initiatives, grouped the identified challenges and opportunities facing the Atlantic region under five thematic headings:

  • Implementation of the ecosystem approach;
  • Reduction of Europe’s carbon footprint;
  • Sustainable exploration of the natural resources on the sea floor;
  • Response to threats and emergencies;
  • Promotion of socially inclusive growth.

Developed within the framework of the above strategy as a result of bottom-up consultations conducted through the Atlantic Forum, the EU’s 2013-2020 Atlantic Action Plan sets out practical steps to be taken in the 4 Member States with Atlantic coasts (Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain) and their outermost regions in order to boost the Atlantic Ocean Area’s sustainable blue economy by 2020.  Its priorities are: 

The governance of the Atlantic Maritime Strategy rests with the Atlantic Strategy Group (ASG), which is responsible for the strategic decision-making related to the review, operational coordination and implementation of the Atlantic action plan. 

To support the ASG in its tasks, the Commission launched the Atlantic Assistance Mechanism. The assistance mechanism provides a series of services aimed at keeping stakeholders informed of the latest news on the action plan and new funding opportunities generated under the scope of the maritime strategy. It also encourages stakeholder’s participation through the organization of specialized events, mapping of funded projects that contribute to the strategy and its action plan (datahub), as well as promote development of new projects and ideas.

Mid-term Review of the Atlantic Action Plan

The Atlantic Action Plan had to undergo a mid-term review in 2017 in order to assess its performance and draw lessons from its implementation in the future.

The Mid-term Review of the AAP, based on an independent study and stakeholder consultation, found that by 2017 the plan had spurred over 1200 new maritime projects and nearly 6 billion euro of investments, an achievement that is visible in the EASME maritime datahub.  In addition, the Atlantic stakeholder community has arguably grown more competitive as regards the securing of funding for marine and maritime projects. Furthermore, the international dimension of the AAP has been strengthened following the signing of the Galway (2013) and Belém (2017) Statements, leading to the creation of the EU-US-Canada Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and the launching of the EU-Brazil-South Africa Atlantic Ocean Research & Innovation Cooperation, respectively.

At the same time, the mid-term Review showed that the plan could perform even better as regards strategy design, implementation and the governance structure. More precisely, the recommendations put forward clearly argue in favour of:

  • improving the architecture and internal coherence of the action plan;
  • developing more targeted policy objectives;
  • setting up a solid framework for monitoring and evaluating the plan’s performance;
  • formalizing and strengthening the overall governance mechanism and better involving the regions;
  • further improving the strategy for communication of the AAP among funding authorities and investors.

The way forward - Revamping the AAP in 2019

Based on the findings of the mid-term review, notably the potential of the action plan to create even more impact for the coastal economy, the European Commission is taking concrete steps in order to safely steer the Atlantic Maritime Strategy into a promising future.

A first series of workshops, revolving around themes identified as highly relevant for the Atlantic blue economy were already held between September and November 2018, one in each of the Atlantic Member States.

The first workshop, on marine renewable energies, took place on 12 September 2018 in Las Palmas (Gran Canaria, Spain) in cooperation with the Maritime Cluster of the Canary Islands (CMC).

The second workshop, held in Viana do Castelo (Portugal) on 28 September 2018, discussed the Mid-term Review of the AAP and concentrated on issues relating to innovative marine renewable energy technologies; ports as blue economy hubs and on ways to boost blue skills and blue carrers through increased cooperation between education and industry, and promoting ocean literacy in the Atlantic Area.

The third workshop, organised on 8 October 2018 in Dublin (Ireland), addressed sustainable aquaculture and connectivity in the EU Atlantic Area.

The fourth workshop, on ports as tourist economy hubs, blue skills and marine litter in the Atlantic sea basin, was held on 7 November 2018 in Liverpool (UK).

Finally, the fifth workshop took place in Bordeaux (France) on 21 November 2018. The workshop addressed the role of ports as blue economy regional development hubs, the promotion of jobs in the maritime sector and the interlinking of blue economy and the environment.

Following the Mid term review, the update of the Atlantic Action Plan is under negotiation with the coastal countries, regions and the European Commission, and expected to be adopted before the end of 2019.

Join us in building a thriving Atlantic Ocean Area

The Maritime Forum aims to improve communication amongst EU maritime policy stakeholders. It allows parties interested in the EU maritime policy to communicate on a common platform. They can publish events, documents and follow developments in their areas of interest. Information can be shared amongst a closed community or published openly. Anybody can register to the forum and comment on its content.

More information on the European Commission actions related to the Atlantic strategy can be found at the DG MARE website as well as in the Useful Links.