Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


‘On improving socio-economic data for maritime sectors and maritime regions

Published on: Wed, 12/08/2015 - 15:04
Table of Contents
    Draft report from 2012 of the Action Group 6.5 on behalf of Eurostat

    Draft report of the Action Group 6.5

    ‘On improving socio-economic data for maritime sectors and maritime regions’


    1. Background

    The 10 October 2007, the European Commission adopted ‘The Blue Book[1]’ for an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union.

    ‘…Commission proposes an integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union, based on the clear recognition that all matters relating to Europe’s oceans and seas are interlinked, and the sea-related policies must develop in a joined-up way if we are to reap the desired results …’

    A detailed Action Plan[2] has been launched to take forward a challenging programme of work to increase coordination in all sea-related policies of the Commission, at the various decision-making levels, including:

    –maximising the sustainable use of the oceans and seas;

    –building a knowledge and innovation base for maritime policy;

    –delivering the highest quality of life in coastal regions;

    –promoting Europe’s leadership in international maritime affairs;

    –      raising the visibility of maritime Europe.

    Among the Action Groups created to support this programme, Eurostat was asked to lead an inter-service group called ‘Action Group 6.5 on improving socio-economic data for maritime sectors and maritime regions’. The group monitored and discussed the development of socio-economic statistics for maritime policy. The Group includes representatives from the following Commission DGs: MARE, MOVE, ENV, EMPL and ENTR

    The consultation process revealed that many of the socio-economic data requested did not exist or were not harmonised and were therefore neither available nor usable. Therefore, the group focused on these issues.

    In the period 2007-2009, Eurostat launched and funded two externally contracted studies monitored by the Action Group:

    ·      The first analysis aimed at compiling already-existing data. The results of the study were the basis for a publication disseminated in June 2009.[3]

    ·      The second study aimed at creating an Integrated Maritime Policy database, proposing EU-wide concepts, definitions and dataset structures. The datasets were derived from other Eurostat data; in other words, they gathered a selection of Eurostat data for this specific subject. In fact, the preliminary study did not provide other data sources (or only very few).

    The Action Group monitored the preliminary studies funded by Eurostat. The progress report on the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy and the accompanying Commission Staff Working Document[4] mentioned in particular the ongoing work by Eurostat. Dedicated data collection was not planned at this stage, taking into account the results of the preliminary studies. Since then, the tasks of the group have comprised finalising and validating the framework and setting up priorities for the statistics and indicators to be used for the topic, together with disseminating the initial results.

    Since 2010, the group has focused on providing and validating inputs meeting the statistical needs of maritime policy. The discussions were mainly related to socio economic indicators used in a cross-cutting way. In parallel, Eurostat has disseminated and conducted methodological work on the topic, taking into account the conclusion of the group.

    This paper aims at presenting the main conclusions of the Action Group and drafting proposals to improve the socio-economic data for maritime sectors and regions. The paper will focus on the statistical framework, definition and basic data that can be used to build appropriate indicators. It must be stressed that the group focused mainly on cross-cutting information. Some results included in Eurostat publications presented and discussed by the Action Group illustrate the paper.

    2. Framework for socio-economic data for maritime sectors and maritime regions

    The lack of a harmonised framework for socio-economic data for maritime sectors and maritime regions largely explains the lack of data and more specifically the problem of the use of these data at varying geographic levels and for different domains. Taking into account the broad nature of the topic and the integrated maritime-policy approach, the definition of such a framework is rather complex.

    The proposals seek to emphasise the horizontal aspects of the topic. The goal is to provide basic definitions and statistical information so as to provide contextual indicators based on consistent information usable at EU and maritime-basin level. The indicators may be broken down to a more detailed level; alternatively, indicators at a greater level of detail may be integrated in a more general context.

    The following paragraph provides an overview of the selected elements of the proposal in terms of scope, coverage, approaches, main definitions and basic variables.


    The scope covers socio-economic data for maritime sectors and maritime regions. Socio-economic data focuses on human activities, living conditions and economic activity. The statistical domains covered include: demography, labour market, economic accounts, location of infrastructure and access to facilities and services, geographical coverage, sector activities and more specifically maritime-sector activities. Statistical information related to purely marine resources or biological statistics were not included in the scope.

    Geographical coverage and scale

    In terms of geographical coverage, the priority will be given to information from EU countries. However, information relating to candidate countries or other countries should also be taken into account. In terms of geographical scale, the priority will be given to aggregates at EU and national level, as well as for sets of regions. Detailed geographical information will be taken into account as much as possible. However, priority will be given to aggregate indicators. The aim will be to provide references or benchmarks that may be used by local stakeholders while also being of more general value.

    Themes / approaches

    The scope has been split into three main themes or approaches: coastal regions, basins and maritime sectors.

    The themes reflect the main aspects of the policy and cover the main data needs from a horizontal point of view. There is partial overlapping between the themes. That is to say, maritime-sector information may be estimated for coastal regions, as these activities are of particular interest to these regions. However, maritime sectors are not located only in coastal regions and may be analysed at a broader scale. In fact, each theme or approach seeks to emphasise a specific aspect. This means that the approach by coastal regions will underline the specificities and representativeness of these regions, the basin approach will gather socio-economic information about the sea regions and their borders, and the approach by maritime sector will focus on activities related to the sea. Each theme or approach is based on a definition.

    Main definitions

    Coastal regions

    For statistical purposes, coastal regions[5] are defined as standard statistical regions (NUTS level 3), which have at least half of their population within 50 km of the coast. This definition has been used in Eurostat publications and agreed by the group.

    Maritime basins

    A basin is a geographical entity made up of one sea region (sea basin) and the coastal regions[6] (land basin) or coastal Member States that border this sea basin. The same delineation of basins is used as for the Atlas of the Sea. The Atlas of the Sea[7] is an application managed by DG MARE aiming to provide the public with information related to the seas and ocean. The basins are:

    - the Mediterranean Sea

    - the Black Sea, including the Marmara Sea

    - the Baltic Sea

    - the North Sea, including the Skagerrak and Kattegat

    - the North-East Atlantic Ocean: Celtic Seas, Bay of Biscay and the Iberian coast

    - the Outermost Regions: French overseas territories, Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira

    Maritime sectors

    Maritime sectors comprise activities linked to the sea. The link between activities and the sea may in particular be explained by the use of marine resources, maritime areas or by the vicinity of these areas. However, the intensity of the relationship between activity and the sea is more or less direct. For this reason, these activities are split into two groups.

    The first group is made up of activities totally and mainly linked to the sea, such as fisheries and maritime transport.

    The second group is made up of activities partly linked to the sea, such as the pharmaceutical-products and chemical industries.

    Maritime sectors cannot be seen as a single sector activity within the NACE[8] classification but rather as a set of sub-functions referring to sector activity as described in ‘The blue growth study’.

    3. Basic information about indicators

    Basic statistical information covers a selection of statistical domains and data sources usable in this context. Available basic information is listed in the annex. The goal was to derive the information from estimated contextual indicators. These indicators will be integrated at a later stage into one or more themes from a geographical or sector point of view.

    There are very few data sources providing sufficiently reliable information to estimate the indicators, especially indicators combining detailed geographical and sector levels. Additionally, data collection on a regular basis will not necessarily provide high-quality information. This is in particularly due to methodological issues such as representativeness but also to confidentiality issues. Moreover, grouping several data sources also raises issues of statistical methodology. Indeed, the use of proxy or statistical methods integrating local or sector specificities seems more promising.

    In line with this approach, Eurostat has used spatial analysis to define a socio-economic profile of the EU’s coastal regions, highlighting the inland impact of maritime activities at different geographic scales.[9]


    All indicators and basic information need to be linked to metadata including in particular the data source and definition. In fact, harmonisation of definitions is the main prerequisite for comparison and aggregation. In other words, in order to compare indicators between regions, within a basin or across maritime-sector activities, the information must be based on the same definition. For example, in order to assess the employment levels within a set of regions, the definition of employment selected needs to be identical or at least harmonised throughout the set of regions.


    4. Statistical program

    Since the launch of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union and the adoption of the ‘The Blue Book[10]’ in 2007, DG ESTAT (Eurostat) has been involved in the statistical information that seeks to support this policy and this new approach. The on-going and planned initiatives related to this field have been included in the multi-annual and annual working programmes. Eurostat has in particular disseminated on a regular basis since 2009 publications on the topic and participated in exchanges with the DGs. Additionally, the program also includes the production of statistical information dedicated to specific domains, such as maritime transport or fisheries, which have a great bearing on the topic. The Community Statistical Programme 2008-2012[11] mentioned that ‘Eurostat will follow the developments in the proposed Maritime Policy and adapt its programme of work accordingly …new statistical information will be compiled and launched for guidance of the proposed Maritime Policy which is currently being drafted by the Commission.’

    The Statistical Work Programme of the Commission for 2012[12] included, under the scope of rural-development and maritime-policy statistics, in particular actions such as Maritime-Policy data collection using data from available sources in the Commission, data collected through European harmonised surveys and the preparation of statistical publications devoted to coastal regions and maritime sectors.


    Since 2009, Eurostat has disseminated on a regular basis dedicated publications and articles presenting key data and analysis on coastal regions and basins in accordance with the proposals (see annex).



    Annex: Eurostat publications references and links


    Statistics in Focus: Nearly half of the population of EU countries with a sea border is located in coastal regions: Key figures for coastal regions and sea areas (Issue number 47/2009 — June 2009)


    Statistics in Focus: Portrait of EU coastal regions — (Issue number 38/2010 – July 2010)

    Pocketbook: Chapter 6 Agricultural statistics: Main results — 2008–09 – October 2010)

    Regional yearbook 2010: Chapter 14 — Coastal regions — November 2010


    Statistics in focus: The Mediterranean and Black Sea basins — Issue number 14/2011 – March 2011

    Statistics in focus: Maritime service areas — Issue number 41/2011 – August 2011

    Regional yearbook 2011: Chapter 13 — Coastal regions — December 2011


    Regional yearbook 2012: Chapter 13 –Coastal regions (online article June 2012 paper version End 2010)


    2013 foreseen

    Statistics in focus: Maritime sectors


    Annex: Summary of basic data list related to coastal regions and basins



    Data source


    Coastal regions’ list



    Area within 50 km from the EU coastline



    NUTS3 area



    Maritime port list and location



    Fishery port list and location



    Allocation coastal region to basin



    Population 1st January, total, by age group and gender






    Demographic balance and crude rates



    Active population (15+), total and by gender



    Unemployment (15+), Number and rate, total and by gender



    Number of persons, total and by main NACE sectors



    GDP in million Euros, per capita and in purchasing power parities



    Tourism allocation, number, capacity by main accommodation types


    Maritime transport

    Passengers, number total and by direction, cruise passenger starting or ending a cruise



    Gross weight of goods, total and by direction



    Short Sea Shipping, gross weight of goods, total, by type of cargo and by basins



    Holdings, Utilised agricultural area, arable land, livestock …



    Number, capacity and dimension of the vessels

    DG MARE: EU fleet register


    Catches by species and regions




    [3]        Nearly half of the population of EU countries with a sea border is located in coastal regions: Key figures for coastal regions and sea areas (Issue number 47/2009) .

    [4]       COM(2009) and SEC(2009) 1343.

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