The Government of Catalonia organised a conference on 26th May 2015 in Barcelona entitled “Challenges for the Integrated Maritime Policy for the MedLogoMarina-Mediterranean Sea”, in the framework of the COM&CAP MarInA-Med horizontal project (Med Programme 2007-2013).

This event gathered more than 120 participants, including representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, and the Union for the Mediterranean. Local, Regional and National authorities, such as the Spanish Ministry of the Treasury, Mediterranean networks, universities and research centres, also offered their contributions to the work, which in addition involved the private sector and some transnational cooperation projects.

The presentation of the draft COM&CAP MarInA-Med Policy Paper and the following debates addressed on the one hand the main assets for enhancing sustainable socio-economic development in the Mediterranean basin, and on the other the need to efficiently tackle the environmental pressures exerted by the main drivers of the basin, such as fisheries and aquaculture, sustainable maritime transport and tourism, or blue energies.

Participants also discussed the challenges linked to enhanced governance in the Mediterranean, demonstrating that interrelation between maritime and coastal sectors and activities definitely called for an integrated maritime approach in order to tackle the identified challenges and overcome conflicts affecting them. To this end, Andrea Mairate, Head of Unit in charge of Macro-regions and Territorial Co-operation at DG REGIO, underlined the importance of exploring synergies among the INTERREG and Country-Specific Programmes or other programmes, such as Horizon 2020, LIFE, COSME and other existing frameworks linked to the Union for the Mediterranean or the Barcelona Convention.

Tarja Richard, who represented the MED Programme, stressed that “the Mediterranean Sea cannot be tackled by carrying out isolated actions. The Members States have now been sufficiently convinced of the need for a widespread system of horizontal projects such as the first pilot experience COM&CAP MarInA-Med. These umbrella projects are designed to coordinate and capitalise on other existing projects, thereby creating synergies and building up joint communication and a real Mediterranean projects community.” These kinds of projects will therefore be part of the new MED Cooperation Programme 2014-2020, giving an added value to its fourth axis created in order “to support the process of developing multilateral coordination frameworks and strengthening the existing ones in the Mediterranean for joint responses to common challenges.”

Roger Albinyana, Secretary for Foreign and EU Affairs of the Government of Catalonia and Lead Partner of the COM&CAP MarInA-Med project, added that “the objective of capitalisation is that the results and recommendations end up being part of a specific Action Plan, or taken into account in a strategy or in concrete public policy.”

The final version of the COM&CAP MarInA-Med Policy Paper will be released and widely disseminated at the end of June. The document is based on the conclusions and recommendations of the 13 Med Maritime Projects and will constitute a first contribution to drawing up a real Mediterranean Strategy for the long term.