WestMed Initiative launched

Today the European Commission launched a new initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean region.

The region covers economic hubs like Barcelona, Marseille, Naples and Tunis. It also includes tourist destinations like the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Corsica.

The sea’s biodiversity is under severe pressure with a recent report by scientists from the Joint Research Centre indicating that 50% has been lost in the last 50 years. In addition to this are recent security and safety concerns from the increase in migration from the South to the North.

This initiative will allow EU and neighbouring countries to work together to increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

The initiative is the fruit of years’ of dialogue between ten countries of the Western Mediterranean region who are ready and willing to work together on these shared interests for the region: five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta), and five Southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia). It follows up on the Ministerial Declaration on Blue Economy endorsed by the Union for Mediterranean (UfM) on 17 November 2015.


Goals and Priorities

  1. A safer and more secure maritime space
    Priorities include cooperation between national coast guards and the response to accidents and oil spills. Specific actions will focus on the upgrade of traffic monitoring infrastructure, data sharing and capacity
  2. A smart and resilient blue economy
    Priorities include new data sourcing, biotechnology and coastal tourism.
  3. Better governance of the sea.
    Priorities include spatial planning, marine knowledge, habitat conservation and sustainable fisheries

Full reports

The initiative is presented in two documents:

The Communication for an Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western

The Framework for Action

Official start of the WestMed Strategy project

On Wednesday, December 16 2015, there was a kick-off meeting between the Executive Agency of the European Commission for SMEs (EASME),  the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the EC (DG MARE) and an Ecorys led consortium with SML and Plan Bleu.

The meeting was also attended by the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission.

A contract was signed which marked the start of a project to develop a maritime strategy for the Western-Mediterranean sea basin. This involves both the South European and Northern African countries bordering that region.

A combination of desk –  and field research will result in identifying several concrete options for so-called cooperation corridors that contain structural promising (economic and environmental) potential and support from key stakeholders.

The project will last 20 months and will be divided into two phases.

In the first phase, the consortium will analyse the existing literature regarding economic, social and environmental challenges and propose options for collaboration to be discussed with the most important parties involved.

In the second phase , a more in-depth analysis of the proposed options will be carried out leading to the drafting of a maritime strategy and action plan for this sea basin.

The project is characterised by a strong participatory  approach. This means that there will be regular on- and offline consultations with relevant stakeholders.

In this context, focus group meetings and events in different locations around the Mediterranean are planned, an interactive website  launched, representatives and institutions consulted and a final conference organised.

During the meeting, Ecorys presented the strengths of the consortium for building the strategy. In particular Ecorys’ experience in project management,  blue growth policies, impact assessments, stakeholder consultations and analysis;  SML’s experience in maritime strategies and governance and Plan Bleu’s experience in the implementation and monitoring of the Barcelona Process in the Mediterranean.