First time in the Baltic Sea Area maritime spatial planning institutions starts cross border planning

Thanks to the newly approved Baltic SCOPE project “Towards coherence and cross-border solutions in Maritime Spatial Planning”, Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) authorities and relevant Regional Sea Organisations in the Baltic Sea Area will come together to jointly discuss and find the planning solutions to the real transboundary issues to improve MSP processes.

The main goal of this collaboration is to come up with common solutions of the cross-border maritime planning leading to greater alignment of national plans. To achieve the goal two MSP cases will be performed where first encompasses the Baltic Sea’s southwest area, which affects Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Poland and the other comprises the marine area between Estonia, Latvia, and Sweden. Both case studies will focus on how shipping traffic, wind farming, fishing, and nature conservation function in these areas and how they can compromise.

That type of approach was never been executed before; thus, it will be a unique exercise to challenge countries involved, learn from the gained experience and transfer the knowledge beyond the project and region. A key asset of this effort is that it will equip planners from the participating countries to take on board transnational considerations when developing their national MSPs. This means that national MSPs can be prepared based on in-depth information provided by neighbouring countries and common solutions found in joint dialogue.

According to the EU Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning Member States shall establish the national maritime spatial plans at the latest by 31 March 2021 taking into account one of the MSP’s principles of transboundary cooperation between Member States.

“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”, emphasized Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries during his speech at the Baltic Sea Conference in Kiel, Germany on 26 March 2015.

In order to draw out the good practices and lessons learned case study processes will be observed and evaluation and monitoring framework for the MSP process will be developed.

The HELCOM-VASAB Working Group, which is established by the Member States of the Baltic Sea Region as a mechanism for coherent MSP process in the Region, named this project as Flagship project of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Hence, the Group will regard the outcome of the Baltic SCOPE project for the future discussions.

In total, about 2 million euro are dedicated to the implementation of this two-year project, 80 percent of which will be financed by European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), but the rest of the funds will be covered by the participants.

The project is led by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management engaging nine partner organizations in Denmark, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, including representatives for the regional organizations HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission), VASAB (Vision and Strategies around the Baltic Sea), and Nordregio (Nordic Centre for Spatial Development).

The representatives of the project Baltic SCOPE from Poland, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Latvia, Estonia and Sweden and the European Commission’s DG MARE at its kick off meeting in Gothenburg, SWEDEN. Photo: SwAM/Kat Singer
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