The ‘EU MSP Directive’ stipulates that Member States should ensure trans-boundary cooperation between Member States (Art. 11) as well as promote cooperation with third countries (Art.12).
A distinction has to be made between a) the cross-border consultation process for a concrete Maritime Spatial Plan and b) the more general, continuous process of cooperation among Member States and their stakeholders within a given sea-basin.
- Consultation of practical topics is arising in the course of elaboration of maritime spatial plans, e.g. trans-boundary impacts of the plan, or trans-boundary coherence of the planning provisions. This usually takes place in bilateral or trilateral interactions (cross-border interactions) and refers to the formal process, which takes place between affected countries and their authorities on specific provisions foreseen in a given Maritime Spatial Plan. As also discussed under topic Environmental Assessments, the SEA Protocol of the Espoo (EIA) Convention provides a framework for facilitating formal cross-border consultation between neighbouring states. This, however, relates to environmental impacts only and thus also limits the range of authorities and institutions that are addressed. Often the consultation takes places rather late in the process.
- Cooperation on maritime spatial planning concerns more strategic and farsighted decisions. It is understood as a more open and preparatory process with focus on information and knowledge exchange as well as development of common understanding. In contrast stakeholder involvement provides methods, see topic..
Both processes may reinforce each other by building trust, extending knowledge, improving information sharing and securing personal contacts between maritime spatial planners from various countries.
Please note that this section of the EU MSP Platform website is not currently being updated with new information. However, the resources throughout our website remain relevant to our mission of sharing knowledge and experiences on MSP in the EU.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between cross-border consultation for a given MSP and general sea-basin cooperation on MSP?
According to the Regional Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Roadmap 2013-2020, the HELCOM-VASAB Guidelines on trans-boundary consultations, public participation and cooperation (HOD 50-2016) have been adopted in 2016. They could be of use for eventually all Baltic Sea countries to carry out trans-boundary consultation according to a common practice.
Consultation of more practical topics is arising in the course of elaboration of maritime spatial plans, e.g. trans-boundary impacts of the plan, or trans-boundary coherence of the planning provisions. This usually takes place in bilateral or trilateral interactions (cross-border interactions) and refers to the formal process, which takes place between affected Baltic Sea Region (BSR) countries and their authorities on specific provisions foreseen in a given Maritime Spatial Plan.
Cooperation on maritime spatial planning is understood as a more open and preparatory process with focus on information and knowledge exchange as well as development of common understanding. Co-operation at pan-Baltic level concerns strategic and farsighted decisions”.
The cross-border consultation for a concrete cross-border plan can be different than general sea basin co-operation, although both processes might reinforce each other by building trust, extending knowledge, improving information sharing and stabilising personal contacts between maritime spatial planners from various countries. Example explanations of the differences can be found in:
How should cross-border cooperation be carried out between countries?
The MSP Directive urges Member States to cooperate in their MSP processes with the aim of ensuring that maritime spatial plans are coherent and coordinated across the marine region concerned, especially taking into account issues of a transnational nature.
The Directive does not set specific measures for cooperation, recognising that there are differences between marine and coastal areas. MSP authorities should develop the most appropriate mechanisms of cooperation. This is likely to include one authority circulating draft versions of their plan for comment by neighbouring authorities and those comments being taken into account. Comments may also be invited from other transnational organisations and stakeholders.
Other mechanisms of cooperation may be agreed by authorities, such as a forum at an early stage of planning where issues of joint concern may be identified and priorities set out. This may be followed by subsequent meetings and on-going contact, where the development of key issues in emerging plans is kept under review. Established mechanisms for cooperation may extend to the implementation of maritime spatial plans.
The Seanergy 2020 project has developed a set of seven criteria to evaluate the different MSP regimes across the 17 EU Member States one of which is cross-border cooperation. In this practice the findings concerning best practices in cross-boundary cooperation for MSP will be elaborated. In addition the Seaenergy 2020 project also produced a Cross Border MSP Case Study demonstrating transnational cooperation on MSP can lead to benefits for offshore wind development.
The HELCOM-VASAB Working Group agreed on principles for trans-boundary consultation within specific MSP processes as well as trans-boundary pan-Baltic cooperation in more general terms. The guidelines are legally non-binding, but recommended to be applied voluntarily to set joint standards for MSP cooperation in the Baltic Sea region as outlined in the guidelines.
The study, Cross-border cooperation in Maritime Spatial Planning, was designed to assist the European Commission (EC) and Member States in the implementation of the MSP Directive through the identification of good practices of MSP, with a particular focus on cross-border cooperation. The practices are derived from reviewing an inventory of non-European global MSP processes, and an in-depth analysis of four case studies. The practices are presented to support and encourage cross-border cooperation in MSP, while recognizing that MSP is primarily a social and political process with major economic consequences, as well as a scientific and technical challenge.
With respect to MSP cooperation with third countries, the project East West Window has demonstrated how to involve Russia to MSP even when authorities responsible for MSP were not existing. Further investigation into this topic is included as part of the study on cross-border consultation, prepared by the EU MSP Platform for the European Commission, to be made available in late 2018.
Are there already examples of trans-boundary plans available to show how such a plan could look like with proposals for selected areas and recommendations for designated issues?
The Trans-boundary Planning in the European Atlantic (TPEA) Project was part-funded by DG MARE with the objective of investigating the delivery of a commonly agreed approach to cross-border maritime spatial planning (MSP) in the European Atlantic region. TPEA was a pilot initiative, bringing together Government bodies, research centres and data agencies from the UK, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland.
Compared to other European Sea Basins trans-boundary plans in the Baltic Sea are reasonably well developed. A number of projects have been carried out over the past decade. The first major project BaltSeaPlan accompanied the EU Maritime Policy by supporting the introduction of Integrated Maritime Spatial Planning within Baltic Sea Region. More recently, the Baltic SCOPE project conducted case studies for two cross border areas: the Southwest Baltic (South-West Sweden bordering Denmark, Germany and Poland) and the Central Baltic (the Latvian sea border with Sweden and Estonia).
The EU DG Mare funded ADRIPLAN aimed to deliver a commonly-agreed approach to cross-border MSP in the Adriatic-Ionian region, considered as a whole and more specifically through two Focus Areas: (1) Northern Adriatic Sea; (2) Southern Adriatic/Northern Ionian Sea.
The case studies included in the study, Cross-border cooperation in Maritime Spatial Planning, are four non-European examples of cross-border MSP processes and plans: the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP); The Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR); The Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI- CFF); and Xiamen Marine Functional Zoning (MFZ). Case study summary reports are available to present an overview of each MSP initiative, and outcomes and lessons learned from each process.
The MARSPLAN - BS project included development of a pilot maritime spatial plan for a cross-border area Mangalia-Shabla, between Bulgaria and Romania. The pilot plan was developed in 5 steps: review and analysis of existing and future activities and uses in the cross-border area Mangalia (RO) – Shabla (BG), development and assessment of alternative strategic scenarios for the region, selection and description of the optimal strategic scenario and goals for maritime spatial planning, elaboration of a Maritime Spatial Plan for the Cross-border area next to the Romanian and the Bulgarian Black sea coast.