Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Member States' Expert Group ad-hoc meeting on measuring the blue economy

Event date:
29/09/2015 - 00:00
Table of Contents
    The Commission's Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has started work on estimating the size and nature of the blue economy based on numbers that EU Member States report to Eurostat. The aim of the meeting is to examine the method and results and compare with similar efforts in Member States.


    The meeting follows a presentation in the 21st Meeting of the Member States Expert Group on Maritime Policy.

    Time and Place

    9.00-1300, Tuesday, 29 September,

    Brussels, Rue Joseph II, 79, Room 1/01 (opposite the cafeteria)


    MARE analysis

    MARE invited comments on its analysis of the size, nature and dynamics of the EU's blue economy. The main points raised were:

    1)    Market economy.

    MARE had analysed only the market economy because this is where the Commission aims to promote growth and because this is the part of the economy covered by structural business statistics. This is consistent with the United States and Chinese approaches for the "ocean economy". Employment in education or research paid by companies is currently included but not that paid by individuals or the government.

    Some participants considered that education and research, naval and coastguard activity contribute to the blue economy and should be taken account of.

    2)    Extraterritorial activity

    MARE said that activity outside the EU territory had not been included because this does not count towards Gross Domestic Product and is not included in structural business statistics. Although this may not change significantly the estimate of the number of people employed, activities such as offshore petroleum exploration by EU companies can certainly have an impact on the financial health of those companies. MARE agreed that more information on them would certainly be useful.

    Clearly shipping also has an extraterritorial dimension. Ships may not touch Europe and may employ non-European seafarers but contribute to the value of European companies. MARE did not know how this is taken account of in Eurostat's structural business statistics but will find out.

    3)    Coastal tourism

    MARE had used the definition of "coastal" based on nights spent in municipalities at or near the coast as defined in Regulation 692/2011. Transport to and from the coast is included. Work is ongoing to include day trips and Member States have been asked if they can distinguish between "urban" and "rural" in the information they provide to Eurostat.

    Some participants thought that this might not be the most appropriate definition. Barcelona and Venice are clearly maritime cities but their proximity to the sea may not be the main attraction for tourists. 

    Because tourism occupies such a large part of the EU's blue economy, at least in employment terms, some participants considered that it ought to be considered separately .Furthermore, more details are needed on specific subsectors – sea-angling, kite surfing,  etc. Some of this information can be obtained from the study used to prepare the Commission Communication on coastal tourism COM(2014)86 but more needs to be done.

    4)    Smaller or Emerging Activities

    Activities such as deep-sea mining or marine biotechnology are fundamental components of the EU's blue growth initiative. Whilst at present their contribution in terms of employment is not going to affect the overall size of the blue economy, MARE still aims to track their development

    5)    Ecosystem Services

    Within the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Member States are working to determine the cost and benefits of measures to improve the state of the marine environment but not to assess the value of natural capital and its contribution to employment. Some efforts to do this are being undertaken under the auspices of the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES).

    6)    Checking with industry

    It was suggested that MARE check their figures with industry sources. This has already been done with the International Oil and Gas Producers and work is underway with the shipping, shipbuilding industries and maritime clusters.

    7)    Calculating Gross Value Added

    Estimating the contribution to Gross Domestic product by adding up the value added of each sector risks missing the many upstream activities such as marine equipment suppliers. Using turnover (minus imports) risks double counting. MARE is examining both methods and will report back.

    8)    Inland activities

    Inland waterways and freshwater aquaculture make up about 15% of the number of people employed in the maritime transport and aquaculture activities. Including them makes analysis easier because some higher level NACE activity codes do not distinguish between them.

    Eurostat analysis

    MARE's effort had focused on employment in activities at a national scale whereas Eurostat had examined other maritime indicators as well as demographic, social and economic aspects of coastal NUTS3 regions. Points raised were:

    1. The data on Irish coastal tourism or value added by Dutch shipbuilding had not been included because these data had not yet been provided by the countries concerned.
    2. Approximately twice as much freight (by volume) is transported into the EU by ship as leaves.

    We also need to estimate the contribution of maritime industries such as marine equipment to the EU's trade balance


    Portugal is setting up a strategic monitoring of  its national plan. So far the analysis covers employment, production and value added for maritime activities from national accounts (i.e. including partially maritime activities such as "service activities incidental to water transportation"). Calculations for the size of the ocean economy are being improved by the development of a Satellite Account for the Sea (SAS) within the National Accounts, a pilot project between Directorate-General for Maritime Policy (DGPM) and Statistics Portugal (INE). SAS will include the direct contribution of all maritime activities defined, but it will not include indirect activities, which might be calculated in the future using input output analysis. For the medium-short term analysis Portugal is using other macroeconomic indicators, such as the turnover from business statistics, mainly for fully maritime activities (SEAMInd project).  Other indicators such as port traffic are being developed. The results will be monitored regularly and feed into instruments such as the National Ocean Strategy 2013-2020, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Maritime Spatial Planning.


    The Irish analysis follows the MARE approach in that they are beginning to take account of indirect activities – the supply of goods and services to the primary sectors. Most of this indirect employment is in the services sector. But the Irish  estimate of travel and service activities is calculated differently and they  have made a special effort to define, survey, quantify and track emerging or high technology sectors such as "high technology marine products and services" or "marine biotechnology and bioproducts":

    MARE thought it highly unlikely that additional surveys at an EU level would be supported. We have to use existing data.


    A study on economic data financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is currently being evaluated. It should provide additional detail on marine activities that are not available from Eurostat – for instance the split in shipbuilding between civil and military.


    1. MARE has defined the blue economy, as have other major trading partners, as the market economy. We also need to look at non-market activities that support the blue economy
    2. We need to understand the story behind the numbers – for instance the reason why tourists visit the sea: sun, angling, culture?
    3. Some of the benefits of the sea are unquantifiable in purely monetary terms
    4. Member States need to understand how much effort they need to put into this exercise and what the and goal is

    Next Steps.

    The ad-hoc group was asked to provide written answers to questions from MARE by 14 October. The questions are here.



    welcome and introduction



    estimates of size of blue economy    

     non-paper (slightly updated 27 September 2015)

    tables of turnover, employment and average wages in blue economy in EU Member States

    presentation  pdf version

    Comments Directorate-General for Maritime Policy (DGPM) and Statistics Portugal (INE) 24th September 2015

    NL non-paper on estimating the size of the blue economy

     paper from UK

    paper from Italy



    geographical perspective








    other estimates


    presentation from Ireland

    Irish Ocean economy Report

    Bio economy input-output model


    presentation from Portugal

    Member States

    12.20 call for tenders MARE/2014/45 (study on the establishment of a Framework for processing and analysing maritime economic data in Europe MARE


    next steps





    Questions for participants

    survey and replies



    Claudia Koreimann-Özkan, Permanent Representation in Brussels


    Janne Peltola, Enterprise and Innovation Department, Ministry of Employment and the Economy


    Claude Wohrer, Secretariat general for the Sea


    Marcella Smyth, Maritime Affairs Attaché Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU, Stephen Hynes, National University of Ireland Galway, Richard Cronin, Department of the Environment


    Maria Cristina Zuchi, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, Carlo Lombardi, Federazione del Mare Italian Maritime Cluster


    Ansis Zeltins, Maritime Association of Latvia


    Paul Marceul, Alain Hoffman, Commissariat aux Affaires Maritimes


    Emma La Perla, permanent representation of Malta to the EU, Franco Schembri, Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business,  Sean Buttigieg, Ministry for Finance


    Lodewijk Abspoel, Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment, DG Spatial development and Water affairs


    Lars Erik Nordgaard, Counsellor for Industrial Affairs


    Iwona Chrząstowska, Department of Maritime Transport and Shipping Safety, Ministry of Infrastructure and Development


    Conceição Santos, Directorate General for Maritime Policy


    Nicole Mot, Permanent Representation Of Romania to the European Union


    Encarna Rodriguez, counsellor in the Reper in Brussels

    United Kingdom

    Marilena Pollicino, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs


    Maria Luisa Ienaccao, administrator in the committee on fisheries of the European Parliament, Matthew King, Miguel Pena, Iain Shepherd, Haitze Siemers, Kristel Jurado, Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Valeriya Angelova-Tosheva, Eurostat,  Charlotte Jagot, European Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises

    Details for reimbursement of expenses (one per Member State)

    rules for reimbursement

    privacy statement

    to be filled in and returned prior to the meeting

    form for security services

    to be filled in and handed over at the meeting

    application for reimbursement

    identification form Participants who have already delivered this form fully completed at an earlier meeting are only required to fill in the fields 1 (Expert) and 4 (Bank).

    If, for exceptional reasons, they cannot be provided on the day of the meeting, they may be tramnsmitted by letter, fax or e-mail postmarked or dated no later than 30 calendar days after the meeting. Please bear in mind that we must receive the originals of the documents.


    • Encarna Rodriguez Cañas's picture

      Encarna Rodríguez Cañas from de Spanish REPER will go on replacement of Belen Nuñez-Lagos

    • claude Wohrer's picture

      Could we add a point to the agenda
      on the call for tenders MARE/2014/45 (study on the establishment of a Framework for processing and analysing maritime economic data in Europe)