The CPMR General Assembly’s maritime session, chaired by George ALEXAKIS, Vice-Governor of the Crete region (Greece) and CPMR Vice-President in charge of Maritime Affairs, was an opportunity to exchange views on the idea of a “European Blue Deal”.
Formulated by Pierre KARLESKIND, MEP, and Eleni MARIANOU, Secretary General of the CPMR, this idea expresses the need to place maritime issues at the heart of the “Green Deal” and the “Investment Plan” that the European Commission is preparing. The maritime economy is indeed at the heart of the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the maritime transport sector. It also plays, through marine energies, a major role in the development of renewable energies and the energy independence of the European Union. Finally, better protection of the oceans, which are severely affected by climate change and pollution, is vital because they produce half of the oxygen on Earth.
As recalled by George ALEXAKIS, the CPMR is working on maritime investments, in collaboration with Bernhard FRIESS, Director at DG Mare, by supporting the development of the Blue Invest platform. This initiative aims to formulate proposals concerning the support of the EMFF and the European Investment Bank for access to the capital of companies in the maritime economy. The European Investment Bank has adopted a new strategy for the sustainable maritime economy and expressed the will to invest an additional 2.5 billion euros in this area. The CPMR especially wants that the support of the European Union further develops the public-private funds supported by the Regions, which exist in many territories.
The maritime session also focused on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Antonio BASANTA, Chief of Cabinet of the Regional Minister for Maritime Affairs, Xunta de Galicia, illustrated that the good results of the CFP and the EMFF in terms of the quality of fish stocks, especially in the Atlantic, as well as the profitability of fishing fleets, are accompanied by a decrease in employment.
The CFP and the EMFF will, therefore, have to improve both their environmental and economic impact, in a context marked by considerable international competition, particularly with China. On this point, Bernhard FRIESS stressed that the European strategy should be based on the preservation of the resource and on innovation. The recent drastic reduction of quotas in the Baltic Sea illustrates the impact of the deterioration of stocks on employment. Pierre KARLESKIND and Antonio BASANTA stressed that the EMFF should allow the improvement of fishing fleets without increasing fishing capacity. They also supported the idea promoted by the CPMR, that Member States could adopt operational programs of the EMFF at the regional level. Christiana KALOGIROU, Secretary-General, Secretariat General for the Aegean and Island Policy, Greek Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy also highlighted challenges faced by islands.
The CPMR will continue to work on these issues, particularly in the context of the CFP’s assessment of the European Commission by 2022.