Belgium: European Commission Presents Prospects for Sustainable Growth from Marine, Maritime Sectors

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To make it through the crisis, Europe needs the contribution of all sectors of its economy. In a Communication on ‘Blue Growth’ adopted today, the European Commission presents promising indications for economic growth and employment prospects in the marine and maritime economy to help Europe’s economic recovery.

These economic sectors provide jobs for 5.4 million people and contribute a total gross value added of around 500 billion euros. By 2020, these should increase to 7 million and nearly 600 billion euros respectively. To realise this potential, the Commission establishes that obstacles hindering growth have to be removed and smart solutions to boost new sectors need to be implemented.

By promoting marine research and innovation, by supporting innovative SMEs, by addressing skills needs and by encouraging innovative products and solutions, Europe can unlock the untapped potential for growth in its blue economy while safeguarding biodiversity and protecting the environment.

Traditional sectors such as maritime transport and maritime and coastal tourism will gain in competitiveness. Growing and emerging sectors, such as ocean renewable energy and blue biotechnology, can become a key to creating more jobs, cleaner energy, and more products and services.

Today’s Communication launches a process which will place the blue economy firmly on the agenda of Member States, regions, enterprise and civil society. It describes how Member States and EU policies are already supporting the blue economy.

It then identifies five specific areas with a particular potential for growth where targeted action could provide an additional stimulus: i) maritime, coastal and cruise tourism, ii) Blue energy, iii) marine mineral resources, iv) aquaculture and v) blue biotechnology.

A set of Commission initiatives will be launched in the near future to explore and develop the growth potential in these areas, including Communications on coastal and maritime tourism, ocean energy, blue biotechnology and marine mineral mining, as well as strategic guidelines on aquaculture. All initiatives will be undertaken in consultation with Member states and relevant stakeholders.

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said: “All parts of Europe’s economy are essential in lifting us through this difficult period. The ‘blue economy’ presents opportunities for sustainable economic growth both in established and emerging marine and maritime sectors. Innovation, enterprise and dynamism characterise these sectors of Europe’s economy. Blue Growth is about getting everybody – starting from the institutions and Member States, to regions and SMEs – to work towards ensuring that we overcome existing challenges to ensure the most productive and sustainable use of what our seas and coasts offer.” 

[mappress]

Press release, September 13, 2012

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