Conférence de lancement / Kick-off Conference

L’Intergroupe Mers, Rivières, Iles et Zones Côtières du Parlement Européen a été heureux de vous accueillir à la conférence intitulée “Saisir l’opportunité pour renforcer l’Europe de la Mer“ organisée avec le soutien de la CRPM (secrétariat de l’Intergroupe), le 12 Mai 2015 (au Parlement Européen. Mme Gesine Meissner, Présidente de l’Intergroupe, a ouvrert les débats en présence du Commissaire Karmenu Vella, des Députés Cláudia Mondeiro De Aguiar, Isabelle Thomas, Ricardo Serrão Santos, Tonino Picula et Sofia Ribeiro ainsi que de Députés membres de l’Intergroupe.

Ce séminaire avait pour objectif de lancer publiquement l’intergroupe Mers, Rivières, Iles et Zones Côtières qui travaille déjà depuis janvier. Après une session d’ouverture qui a impliqué Mme Gesine Meissner et Mr le Commissaire Karmenu Vella, trois sessions thématiques ont été organisées :

  • Vers une croissance bleue durable
  • Les Fonds Européens en soutien à l’activité maritime
  • Relever les défis des Iles


The European Parliament’s Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas Intergroup have had the pleasure to welcome you to the seminar entitled "Seizing the opportunity to develop a stronger Europe of the sea " organised with the support of CPMR (secretariat of the Intergroup), that took place 12 May 2015 at the European Parliament with a welcome address by Mrs Gesine Meissner, Chair of the Intergroup and in presence of Commissioner Karmenu Vella, MEPs Cláudia Mondeiro De Aguiar, Isabelle Thomas, Ricardo Serrão Santos, Tonino Picula, Sofia Ribeiro and MEPs member of the Intergroup.


MEP Gesine MEISSNER, Chair of the Intergroup welcomed the participants to this opening Conference of the Intergroup. After thanking Mrs Meissner and all the Members of the Intergroup, Commissioner Karmenu VELLA, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Fisheries and Environment gave an overview of his work programme (full speech in English). Mr George ALEXAKIS, Regional Councillor of Crete, Greece, Vice-President of the CPMR, highlighted how important the Intergroup is. He presented the CPMR’s priorities regarding maritime issues (full speech in English).

Session I – Towards Sustainable Blue Growth

MEP Ricardo SERRÃO SANTOS, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup, chaired the session. He mentioned “the Arctic paradox” as an important example to build blue growth with a precautionary approach. The Intergroup has a major role in facilitating the dialogue between all stakeholders in the maritime sector he said.

MEP Isabelle THOMAS, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup, highlighted that Blue Growth was not only about jobs, growth and added value but also an opportunity for energy independence in Europe. She also stressed that we cannot replicate the same mistakes we made on land and therefore we have to develop a new development model at sea. Most of the pollution comes from land however the WFD should take this aspect into account. She added that the issue of oceans’ acidification due to air pollution is also a consequence of inland activity. The blue economy should be defined in a broad and integrated way including all maritime activities as they generate dynamics between each other. Marine data has a cost, developing programmes dedicated to the blue economy is therefore a necessity. She concluded by saying that although training is not a competence of the EU, it could develop initiative policies in this regard.

Mr Francis VALLAT, President of the European Network of Maritime Clusters insisted on matters that the EU has to take into account when addressing the maritime economy. He stated that maritime activity is the driver for European economic growth, and that maritime clusters will help. This Green and Blue Growth can’t be developed to the expense of humans. Development and sustainability have, therefore, to be an equal part in this equation. Oceans and seas are a limited and small space which has to be protected from pollution. He gave some examples demonstrating that is was possible to build an economic development that is compatible with environment protection.

Mrs Kathrine ANGELL-HANSEN, Director, JPI Oceans, presented JPI Oceans and the support it can bring to the development of maritime activities (PPT presentation in English).

Mr Roberto FERRIGNO, WWF explained that EU policies addressing maritime issues have to integrate environmental protection. There is a need to clearly define the blue economy, taking into account the need to protect the marine environment and making sure that the future generation will be able to benefit from it as well. He asked for an analysis of existing policies designed to deal with the marine environment as he explained that these policies are failing to protect it (PPT presentation in English).

Q&A with the Commissioner

MEP Werner KUHN asked Commissioner VELLA to give an overview regarding projects that could be funded through the Juncker Plan.

Mr Mike MANNAART from KIMO sked Commissioner VELLA what role he sees for Local Authorities in achieving Blue Growth.

Mrs Ann DOM from Seas at Risk asked Commissioner VELLA how the Juncker Plan will manage to channel the budget to allow national ministries to meet the environmental goals of the EU. She also mentioned the Blue Manifesto co-signed by several NGOs.

Commissioner VELLA highlighted that the Junker Plan is not the only tool the EU can use to channel funding to environmental projects: the structural funds can have a significant impact in this regard. The environment and the economy cannot be addressed as two separated silos, the environment is a catalyst towards growth. In the years to come we will have to look more and more to the sea and maritime activities. He concluded by stating that the EU has to be active in this field on a global scale as there is no such thing as a European maritime environment.

Session II – Efficient EU funds to support maritime activities

MEP Cláudia MONTEIRO DE AGUIAR, Member of the Intergroup stated that strategies developed at EU level have a strong impact. Support for the development of blue biotechnologies in the Nordic Countries, nautical stations in Spain or blue energy in Portugal. She mentioned the opinion of the PECH Committee and its focus on new investment that should be made in the maritime economy. Accessing EU funds is still too complicated for the private sector and local stakeholders, the creation of a simple and clear website to facilitate comprehension of when and how maritime activities can be funded would be a major step forward in this regard.

Mrs Sigi GRUBER, Head of Unit, DG RTD highlighted the major role the EP played in including Blue Growth in the Horizon 2020 programmes. She presented Horizon 2020’s marine and maritime dimension. More specifically, she focused on the 2014-2015 Calls and the future 2016-2017 work programme (PPT presentation in English).

Mrs Isabelle GARZON, Head of Unit, DG MARE presented the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and gave a first analysis of the different Operational Programmes (PPT presentation in English).

Mr François-Marie DUTHOIT, Chairman, Waterborne TP’s Blue Growth Working Group, illustrated the importance of supporting maritime activities by referring to space odyssey. He stressed the need to create a Community of Maritime Engineering and Technology in order to develop a suitable cross-cutting approach. He concluded by stating that a lot is being done to support maritime activities, but the level of financing is simply not high enough (PPT presentation in English).


Mr Eleftherios STAVROPOULOS from the Greek Permanent Representation to the EU, asked if the European Commission is using the Operational Programmes to study the concentration of Blue Growth-related priorities in the Islands and Coastal regions.

Mrs Isabelle GARZON explained that there is no thematic earmarking, the EC does it for the different objectives that are Innovation, Competitiveness of SMEs, Labour and Mobility. It is up to the Regional and Local Authorities and stakeholders to apply for funding to develop Blue Economy activities and projects.

Session III – Tackling the challenges of European Islands

MEP Tonino PICULA, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup, chaired the session. He asked if enough was done in the past to provide our citizens living in Islands with decent living conditions. European Islands face common issues such as limited accessibility, high dependence on a narrow range of activities, etc. which require a coordinated response. The Intergroup is a suited tool to address these challenges he said.

MEP Sofia RIBEIRO, Vice-Chair of the Intergroup, listed the handicaps of the Outermost Regions that justify extra support from the EU in order to ensure more cohesion and equity in all European territories. These Regions cannot be considered only as geographical strategic points although this dimension is important. They can play a key role in developing the blue economy at EU level. She stressed the need to explore maritime potential while avoiding jeopardising our environment and biodiversity. To reach this goal, Europe must facilitate investment in marine research and knowledge. She also insisted that decisions that impact on fisheries must rely on scientific data, it needs to be more regionalised and demand more effort on training, on the standardisation of working conditions. She concluded by saying that Member States’ national reform plans must reflect Blue Growth priorities.

Mr Dimitrios THEOLOGITIS, Head of Unit, Ports and Inland Navigation, DG MOVE, focused on the issue of accessibility and connectivity. The latest instrument adopted, the Trans-European Transport Network and its 9 Corridors is not a suitable reply to tackle the issue of connectivity for the islands as these corridors deal with the main movement of volume. The balance between commercial viability and public service is one of the main challenges when developing a much-needed well-functioning coastal shipping and aviation fleet and well-functioning port and airport system. The allocation of subsidies has to be carried out carefully in order to avoid an unjustified advantage to either the public or private sector.

Mr Charalampos KOKKINOS, Deputy Regional Governor of South Aegean, Greece, put forward the views of the CPMR Islands Commission regarding priorities of Island Regions in Europe (full speech in English).


MEP Mitialdis KYRKOS asked why Greece keeps failing in its repeated attempts to get funding to use hydroplanes to connect all its islands.

Mr Dimitrios THEOLOGITIS explained that there is no regulatory issue but funding issues: setting priorities for larger projects on the larger corridors. However he stressed that on the one hand it would be possible to include such projects in the future Call, in particular for the implementation of the comprehensive network, and on the other hand regional funds could be used to fund this kind of activity as it is necessary for the Regions’ development.



Event Properties

Event Date 12-05-2015 11:00
Event End Date 12-05-2015 13:30
Deadline to register 11-05-2015
European Parliament Brussels
Rue Wiertz, 1047 Bruxelles, Belgique
European Parliament Brussels
Categories Conférence 2015-2019
Attachment Draft Agenda.pdf
We are no longer accepting registration for this event

What is an Intergroup?

The Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas Intergroup is one of the 27 Intergroups that were approved on 11 December 2019 by the Conference of Presidents for the 9th legislature of the European Parliament. Intergroups can be formed by MEPs from any political group and any parliamentary committee with a view to holding informal exchanges of views on particular issues and promoting contact between MEPs and civil society.

The Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas Intergroup brings together more than 100 MEPs from 7 different political groups and 23 Member States.

Intergroups are not Parliament bodies and therefore may not express Parliament's opinion.

Intergroups are subject to internal rules adopted by the Conference of Presidents on 16 December 1999 (last updated on 11 September 2014), which set out the conditions under which intergroups may be established at the beginning of each parliamentary term and their operating rules.

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With the support of the CPMR, Intergroup Secretariat