On 1st January 2014, Greece took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Traditionally a maritime country - 13.500 km of coastline, about 2.500 islands - Greece intends to place “particular importance on EU maritime policies, both as a source of growth and prosperity for the Union as a whole” throughout its presidential term. More specifically, the Greek Presidency aims at re-starting every aspects of the EU Maritime Policy and to produce Council conclusions on Maritime Policies in June 2014 at the European Council.
Generally speaking, the Hellenic Presidency will promote the ideas of an Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) as defined in the Commission Communication on Blue Growth, which set up actions towards the Europe 2020 strategy. In this regard, the Presidency will especially follow up on the “Marine and Maritime Agenda for growth and jobs”. The Presidency expects to adopt draft conclusions on IMP in June 2014. These conclusions would refer to “blue energy, aquaculture, seabed mapping, exploitation of marine mineral resources, blue biotechnology and environmental issues and insularity”. Intersectional and trans-border cooperation in the Sea may also be part of such conclusions.
In the fisheries sector in particular, the Hellenic Presidency will focus on sustainable management of EU fishing and fisheries as part of the Common Fisheries Policy reform. This will imply new negotiations on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and further discussions on its implementation. In addition, a number of multiannual management and recovery plans may be adopted in favor of sustainable exploitation of resources and environmental protection, with the purpose of achieving maximum sustainable yield levels. Support will also be granted to “the processing and marketing of fishery products” and the aquaculture sector. The Presidency will also work towards a better integration of the Regional Fisheries Management Organizations conclusions in EU law. Negotiations with partners and third countries will continue in the framework of the Fisheries Partnership Agreements. Lastly, the Greek Presidency will organize the annual General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) Summit in May 2014 in Rome. The Presidency is “planning to host an extraordinary Session of the GFCM in Greece, for the purpose of modifying the Commission’s legislative framework”.
The Hellenic Presidency will also follow up on the European Commission proposed Directive on Marital Spatial Planning and update the EU strategy on Maritime Transport until 2018. The Presidency will also organize a Stakeholder Conference on the EU Macro-Region Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region - ΕUSAIR - in light of the possible adoption and presentation by the Commission of an Action Plan on EUSAIR to the Council during Spring 2014. The Presidency also expects to adopt a EU Maritime Security Strategy based on a joint European Commission/High Representative Communication on elements for an EU Maritime Security Strategy. Another High Level Conference will be organized on Maritime and Coastal Tourism to support the preparation of a Communication by the European Commission setting up an EU Strategy on Maritime and Coastal Tourism.
Regarding maritime transport, the Greek Presidency will work to review the implementation of the European Maritime Transport Strategy until 2018 and will help the Council on the proposal for a Regulation establishing a framework on market access to port services and financial transparency of ports. The Presidency will also renew its efforts to reach an agreement with the European Parliament with regard to the Marine Equipment Directive.