Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


"A global dimension of the European Maritime Policy: the Outermost Regions perspective" (1.4)

Event date:
19/05/2010 - 14:30 to 18:30
Table of Contents

    Chair: Carlos Portugués Carrillo, General Director of Relations with Europe. Government of the Canary Islands, representing the Conference of the Outermost Regions.


    1. Jorge Bonnet Fernández, Director of the Agency for Sustainable Development and Climate Change of the Government of the Canary Islands.

    2. Narcisse Zaïbo, French West Indies and Guiana University, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.

    3. José Gabriel do Álamo Meneses, Regional Secretary for the Environment and Sea of the Government of Azores.

    4. Karen Sumser-Lupson, Special Adviser Science and Technology, Marine Science Technology Center (CETECIMA), Canary Islands.

    5. Jean Yves Dalleau, Presidential Counsellor of Réunion.

    6. Eddy Hartog, Head of Unit for Maritime Policy in the Atlantic, Outermost Regions and the Arctic, Directorate General Maritime Policy and Fisheries, European Commission.

    1. Three key messages

    • The Outermost Regions (OR) of the EU (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Saint-Barthelme, Saint-Martin, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands), located in the Caribbean Sea, South Eastern Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, offer to the EU a world-wide maritime dimension and have a particular role to play in the context of Maritime Policy. Therefore, these regions should be placed at core of the implemented European maritime policy.

    • Undoubtedly, OR represent a substantial part of the European maritime dimension. Nevertheless, these regions are also subject to a number of geographical, climatic and accessibility specificities that require a particular consideration within the implementation of the Maritime Policy. A balance should be established between the assets and the handicaps of the OR. EU policies should be adapted to the reality of the OR. Europe and all its Member States have to realise about and release the potentials, strengths, assets and comparative advantages of the OR.

    • Outermost regions are at the heart of the EU 2020 strategy, being leaders in, inter alia, marine biodiversity, research or renewable energies; offering untapped assets and providing geostrategic locations all over the world. OR are an extension of the Europe expertise and knowledge into areas not so well developed. OR offer privileged locations for the implementation of development and cooperation policies.

    2. Summary of the interventions from the panel

    Mr. Portugués Carrillo set the scene of the workshop recalling the numerous maritime assets and untapped potentialities provided by the OR (biodiversity, research potential and expertise, privileged geostrategic location, fisheries, aquaculture, renewable energies or tourism. He signalled that OR assets and added value are to be fully exploited in the IMP framework, while, at the same time, OR specificities and handicaps are to be entirely taken into account.

    Mr. Bonnet Fernández presented the "Geospatial Information System of the Canaries Sea". Being a prototype of MARAtlas and EMODNet, this system compiles information and data on temperature, bathymetry, biology, maritime activities or protected areas in the marine area around the Canaries Islands. Mr. Bonnet emphasised the privileged location provided by the OR for marine research purposes and how OR may play a very key role as observatories in areas where surrounding neighbouring countries are not always so well developed.

    Mr. Zaïbo presented the "Caribbean Tsunami Warning System". This intergovernmental system set up in 2006 under the UNESCO provides assessment, mitigation and early warning tools for the detection of tsunamis and the prevention of loss of life and property in the whole Caribbean region ( Mr. Zaïbo pointed out that OR are an extension of the EU expertise in areas not so well developed.

    Mr. Álamo Meneses highlighted the strong links of the Azores Islands with maritime affairs. With the biggest EEZ in Europe, Azores has been dealing with maritime affairs during the last thirty years becoming a forerunner in marine research or in the establishment of marine protected areas. In this light, Azores claim that specificities of the OR are to be carefully looked at, mainly in what regards fisheries, signalling that despite the large EEZ, fisheries are only productive around the sea mounts (3% of the total EEZ). He also expressed his opinion that OR have to become real partners of Europe and not mere appendices.

    Ms. Sumser-Lupson presented the North West Africa Maritime Safety Agency (NWAMSA). This Agency, supported by the University of Las Palmas of Gran Canaria will provide scientific and intelligence assistance to African Member States on matters relating to the safe, secure and clean movement of maritime transport, and the prevention of the loss of human lives at sea ( Additionally, the University of Las Palmas of Gran Canaria is setting up a Maritime Safety and Security International Centre of Excellence that might help surrounding countries in these areas. Ms. Sumser-Lupson stressed the role to be played by the OR as platforms for the implementation of the EU neighbourhood policy. She questioned why OR are not eligible for the EU neighbourhood policy funds.

    Mr. Dalleau assessed the marine and maritime values and assets offered by the OR. He underlined the vast EEZ of the OR, their biodiversity richness and particularly their privileged location all around the globe. In this light, OR are extraordinary observatories and laboratories as well as excellent platforms to assist developing countries to face global challenges (such as illegal fishing or climate change). Finally, he recalled the need to realise about and release the potentials, strengths, assets and comparative advantages of the Outermost regions.

    Mr. Hartog presented the Outermost Regions as a group, but also in their individual setting. They contribute to Europe through their individual sector initiatives, through their unrivalled contribution to certain European projects and through their links to other parts of the world. He signalled that OR are leaders on many marine issues, offer paramount assets and are geostrategically located. This puts OR at the heart of the EU 2020 Strategy. It is important, he signalled, that the Commission agenda of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth brings the Outermost Regions with us. Mr. Hartog indicated that the main challenge ahead is to raise awareness of the potentialities and assets offered by the OR to the whole Europe and not only to some Member States.

    3. Discussion: Key questions and messages from the floor.

    Workshop participants raised the following issues during the questions and answers session following the main presentations by the speakers:

    - How could OR be better integrated into the Motorways of the Sea strategies?

    - Integrated Maritime Policy and Fisheries Policy are to go hand in hand and more particularly in the case of the OR.

    - How could OR be better considered in the IMP framework?

    - How could OR be used as platforms for neighbourhood or cooperation policies? Why is it easier to cooperate between Poland and Ukraine than between French Guiana and Brazil?

    The panel of speakers agreed in signalling that on the one hand OR enjoy particular advantages and have to be able to fully exploit them. On the other, OR suffer certain handicaps that the EU policies need to address in an adequate manner.

    Indeed, the outermost regions have evident strengths and comparative advantages in the maritime policy field: biodiversity and marine ecosystems and incomparable wealth of their natural marine resources, potential on research and development, potential on economic development (fisheries, aquaculture, transports, sustainable tourism, renewable energies), exclusive economic zones (EEZ) equivalent to that of the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas combined, special geostrategic positions… But it coexist several disadvantages and threats like: isolation, limited accessibility, difficulties to access to RTD resources, vulnerability to the impact of the climate change and natural disasters, growing coastal population…

    The Communication “An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union” (COM(2007) 575 final), confirms that “outermost regions give the EU maritime policy a global dimension. They have a close relationship with the sea shaped by their maritime economic activities and their marine natural heritage, but also by their vulnerability to climate change and to extreme weather phenomena. Their full integration in an EU Maritime Policy is of particular importance” (point 6.2), and its action plan (SEC(2007) 1278) affirms that “EU Maritime Policy should recognise the specific situation of remote regions and islands and adapt maritime policies to take these specificities into account, thus placing these regions in a better position to exploit their particular assets”.

    Mr. Portugués Carrillo closed the workshop mentioning that the Memorandum signed in Las Palmas last 7th may 2010 by the OR, Spain, France and Portugal, seeks to find a balance between the assets and the handicaps of the Outermost Regions and proposes ways to adapt EU policies to the reality of the OR.

    4. Links


    • North West Africa Maritime Safety Agency (NWAMSA):

    • Caribbean Tsunami Warning System: