Towards coherence and cross-border solutions in Baltic Maritime Spatial Plans


The high and rapidly increasing demand for maritime space for different purposes, such as installations for the production of energy from renewable sources, oil and gas exploration and exploitation, maritime shipping and fishing activities, ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, the extraction of raw materials, tourism, aquaculture installations and underwater cultural heritage, as well as the multiple pressures on coastal resources, require an integrated planning and management approach.

Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is an essential instrument for the efficient management of maritime activities. It ensures that any such activities are sustainable and in line with ecosystem approach to marine management.

The European Commission has adopted the MSP Directive (23 July 2014) which main purpose is to promote consistency and coherence of maritime spatial plans across marine regions. This emphasizes ongoing cooperation across borders and mechanisms that facilitate the exchange of best practices. Such cooperation is not easy to establish.

Compared to other European sea basins, MSP is already relatively well developed in the Baltic Sea region. HELCOM and VASAB are strong regional organisations with an interest in sustainable development, and the joint HELCOM-VASAB MSP working group has developed a regional set of MSP principles and adopted the Regional Baltic MSP Roadmap 2013-2020, which – among others – foresees to develop guidelines relating to MSP governance as well as regular reporting by countries on their MSP development.

Maritime Spatial Planning is also a horizontal action of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region, and drawing up and application of transboundary, ecosystem based maritime spatial plans by 2020 has been identified as a target for the Strategy.

2,6 million EUR for two years period until March 2017

Project Manager and Coordinator 
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management

Tel : 0046 (0)10 698 6229
Mobile : 0046 (0)703 662529

Communication Manager
VASAB Secretariat 

Mobile : 00371 286 25489

Financial Manager
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management

Tel : 0046 (0)10 698 60 52
Mobil : 0046 (0)76-538 60 52

The project has been named as Flagship project of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region as together with the activities planned to be realized it also helps to implement the Baltic Regional MSP Roadmap 2013-2020, especially with regard to guidelines on the ecosystem approach within MSP, transboundary consultation and cooperation as well as stakeholder participation

EUSBSR flagship label cmyk

10 project partners are involved in the project also engaging 3 associated partners all together being represented by 8 countries around the Baltic Sea


The main goal of this cooperation is to come up with common solutions of the cross-border maritime planning leading to greater alignment of national plans. That type of cooperation was never been executed before; thus, it is a unique exercise to challenge countries involved, learn from the gained experience and transfer the knowledge beyond the project and region.


  • To accompany the official ongoing or planned MSP processes which have begun in most BSR Member States in response to the MSP Directive
  • To carry out concrete cross-border cooperation between Member States in the Baltic Sea Region, asking what is needed to achieve successful cross-border cooperation and where potential barriers may lie as well as developing recommendations for the cross-border MSP processes.
  • To develop two MSP CASE STUDIES. In both cases the Project will follow a systematic step-by-step approach during which specific hot topics / issues are identified based on information brought together from the various inventories undertaken in each participating case country.

Southwest Baltic (SWB) case with Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Poland.

This is a large case study area where key transboundary issues include shipping, offshore wind farming, sand and gravel extraction, fishing and MPAs and where countries border each other in different constellations (territorial waters and EEZ). The area encompasses linear infrastructures such as the Fehmarn belt area and planned tunnels between Sweden and Denmark across the Öresund (city planning between Copenhagen and Malmö), as well as a number of transboundary “hot spots” already identified by the respective countries.

One is Kriegers Flak, an area spanning Sweden, Germany and Denmark which is important and potentially conflicting for sand and gravel extraction and offshore wind farm/energy grid development. There is also the narrow Öresund, where there is no EEZ and which is one of the busiest shipping lanes of the Baltic (affecting Denmark, Sweden and Germany). There are added bilateral issues between Denmark and Sweden in the Kattegat area (e.g. MPA development and raw material extraction, fisheries). Another “hot spot” is north-east of Bornholm, and another around Middle Bank which is important for Sweden and Poland.

Central Baltic (CB) case with Latvia, Estonia and Sweden.

Latvia now is engaged in its own MSP process and has begun preparatory and start-up work on MSP. A key element of the work is an assessment and description of legislative regulations, content and scope of MSP in LV, LT, EE and SE.

Particular focus of this case study is on the development of cross-border co-operation procedures with respect to the Strategy Environmental Assessment (SEA). In addition, to discuss, identify and agree on common interests and strategies among the participating countries in relation to the main four sectors recalled in the MSP directive, i.e. energy, transport, fisheries and the environment as well as to agree on the exchange of data and a comparative table of sea use zoning.

Up and above the solutions developed for the case study areas, the project will deliver a set of generic good practices, methods and results which will be filtered into the Baltic MSP process fostered by the HELCOM-VASAB MSP WG. These lessons learnt and recommendations will be generated through a comparative analysis of the two cases on the basis of a systematic, integrated research process.

The project will also generate recommendations for evaluating the MSP process. Moreover, the recommendations will be developed for the implementing an ecosystem based approach to MSP, the use and exchange of data in MSP, the SEA process and institutional stakeholder consultation.

The project aims to achieve coherence and consistency among various national plans by setting the conditions to ensure that the national plans to be developed in each of the participating Baltic Sea countries “fit better together”.

  • In Sweden and Latvia, it will support the development of maritime spatial plans which are beginning to be prepared by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, respectively. Particular focus will be on ensuring that the plans to be developed by both countries are aligned with existing plans in Germany and Lithuania and with emerging plans in Poland, Denmark and Estonia
  • In Germany, it will support the first revision of the existing maritime spatial plan for the EEZ and ensure the alignment of the plan with Denmark, Sweden and Poland
  • In Denmark, Poland, Estonia and Finland, it will not only support cross-check of inventory (stocktaking) processes, which have already started or are about to be started, but also support early consideration of transboundary concerns in the MSP planning process, again seeking alignment of plans and planning processes where possible
  • The Project will also promote greater alignment between ongoing national and sub-national MSP processes, such as those in Pärnu Bay and Hiiuma Island in Estonia

The project builds on the results and recommendations developed in previous MSP projects in the Baltic and elsewhere. It will be interlinked with the parallel BONUS BaltSpace research project, and is expected to filter results into future planned projects for the Gulf of Finland as well as future INTERREG projects.


“On Maritime Spatial Planning the Baltic Sea basin is among the most progressive in the European Union. The Baltic is showing Europe and the world what we can achieve in the context of marine and maritime sustainability if we are ambitious enough. We are the only ones in the world instigating cross-border cooperation for maritime spatial planning in sea basins.”

Karmenu Vella

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
during his speech at the Baltic Sea Conference in Kiel, Germany on 26 March 2015


The involvement of the authorities for Maritime Spatial Planning in the Baltic ensures accountability for the results of the project and makes sure the outcomes are incorporated in national maritime spatial plans.

Maritime spatial planning authorities
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management – Lead Partner Sweden Website
Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency – Partner Germany Website
Danish Maritime Authority – Partner Denmark Website
Maritime Office in Szczecin – Partner Poland Website
Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development – Partner Latvia Website
Ministry of Finance – Partner Estonia Website
Ministry of the Environment – Associated Partner Finland Website
Ministry of Environment – Associated Partner Lithuania Website
Ministry for Energy, Infrastructure and Regional Development of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania – Associated Partner Germany Website
Regional organisations
VASAB – Partner Website
HELCOM – Partner Website
Accompanying research
Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) – Partner Website
Nordregio – Partner Website

Partnership of the Baltic SCOPE

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