In 2007, the Portuguese presidency of the Council of Ministers spearheaded an ‘integrated maritime policy' that contained a great many promises. The packed action plan promised to establish a network of “motorways of the sea” throughout Europe, eliminate illegal fishing, and mitigate the effects of climate change on coasts.
Five years later, and there is no integrated maritime strategy. “There was a lot of discussion...but since then we have not heard much about it,” said Eleni Marianou, secretary-general of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions.
Cyprus, as a maritime island state, says reviving the policy is one of the main goals of its period at the head of the EU. In October, an informal ministerial conference will be held in Limassol with the aim of producing a ‘Limassol declaration' that sets out the priorities for action.
Earlier this month, Efthemios Flourentzou, Cyprus's minister for communications and works, said the declaration would mark “a new drive for the further development and implementation of this innovative, cross-cutting policy”.
The European Commission is expected to present a progress report on the integrated maritime policy at the October conference, which will be attended by Maria Damanaki, the European commissioner for fisheries and maritime affairs, and José Manuel Barroso, the president of the Commission.
The declaration will not contain plans, dates or deadlines. But it will indicate policy areas that need to be strengthened and ways in which maritime policies can be better linked.
The Cypriot government hopes that this push for an integrated policy will last longer than its predecessor.