Cross-border Cooperation

Main Issues: 

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.

  1.  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.
  2. 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.

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.

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Lessons Learned in Maritime Spatial Planning

These lessons learned are derived from four case studies analysed as part of the study, Cross-border cooperation in Maritime Spatial Planning. They highlight and compare the MSP practices that have been more critical to the success of each case study based on their contexts, as identified in the Case Study Summary Reports. Lessons learned cover factors related to the context, drivers, goals, design, collaboration and consultation, and results of MSP processes analysed. 

TPEA Evaluation Report

Development of an evaluation framework for assessing the quality and effectiveness of MSP in transboundary contexts.

Institutional set-up of the HELCOM-VASAB MSP Working Group

The Working Group was established to ensure cooperation among the Baltic Sea Region countries for coherent regional Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) processes in the Baltic Sea.

Guidelines on transboundary consultations, public participation and co-operation

The HELCOM-VASAB Working Group agreed on principles for transboundary consultation within specific MSP processes as well as transboundary pan-Baltic cooperation in more general terms.

Handbook on multi-level consultations in MSP

Provides an insightful checklist of tasks that MSP organizers should perform at different stages of the process together with stakeholders at multiple levels.

MSP Governance Framework Report

The governance framework report aims at providing recommedations on how to improve transnational and cross-border consultation and cooperation in the Baltic Sea.

Conservation and protection of the Black Sea through new MPAs

Harmonization of policies required to identify, designate and manage MPAs.Development of a work programme aimed at identifying, designating, and improving effective management of protected areas (coastal and/or marine).

Methodological handbook on MSP in the Adriatic Sea

Chapter 4 of the Handbook lays out a preliminary common vision for the future of the Adriatic Sea taking into account environmental, economic, social, government as well as climate change and innovation issues.

Adriatic Atlas to support ICZM and MSP

The "Adriatic Atlas to support ICZM and MSP" is the first Web Atlas for the Adriatic Sea that was developed, within the Shape project, through a cross-border approach. The Adriatic Atlas is designed as a tool for storing, visualizing and managing data which are necessary for the implementation of MSP and ICZM policies in the Adriatic basin and through a cross-border cooperation approach.

Good Practices in support of cross-border collaboration in MSP

These good practices were developed to support and encourage cross-border cooperation in MSP, particularly given that the practice of MSP is a social and political process, as well as a scientific and technical challenge. Practices were identified from each case study developed as part of the study, Cross-border cooperation in Maritime Spatial Planning, and compared with common practices identified through the Global MSP Inventory. 

Cross-border cooperation in Maritime Spatial Planning

This study was designed to assist the European Commission 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 study also elaborates recommendations that can support the promotion and exchange of MSP at the international level, relevant to the implementation of the EC International Ocean Governance Agenda.

TPEA Pilot Areas Report

Evidence of MSP authorities working together on defining transborder issues, collecting and sharing data, creating common GIS platform, undertaking stakeholder engagement etc.

Preparatory action for MSP in the North Sea

The project designed a process for cross-border MSP and developed a concept for monitoring and evaluation.

Transboundary MSP pilot in the Bothnian Sea

The guidance provides a draft plan of the Bothnia Sea. The map is followed by draft recommendations for certain designated issues. It aims to stimulate discussion around what a transboundary plan of the Bothnian Sea could look like. The plan also refers to environmental assessments and their requirements when preparing for certain sectors.

Study on perspectives of main grid network interconnection between countries and with potential wind parks

A review on development of electricity distribution systems in Poland, Lithuania and Kaliningrad district (Russia) and OWE development related problems. The study provides visionalised decisions for interconnection of main grid networks and potential wind power parks.

Black Sea Case Study

Analysis of links between economic, social and ecological marine spatial planning processes with the aim of providing practical input for the development of a long-term strategy towards evaluation and monitoring of MSP in the Black Sea.

Report on Marine Protected Areas

There is a need to establish a network of marine protected areas in the Alboran Sea, with an integrated and focused on cooperation perspective and building from the results and milestones from the Roadmap 2020 for Mediterranean MPA.

MSP exercise in Southern Adriatic/Northern Ionian

Analysis of the site-specific environmental, socio-economic and governance conditions, to develop for those areas more focused, cross-sectoral and short-term measures.

Pilot MSP plan in Lesvos and Rhodes (Greece)

These plans cover co-existing uses within the territorial waters of the two islands like fishing, aquaculture, tourism, nature conservation, shipping and oil extraction.

MSP exercise in Northern Adriatic

The analysis on ADRIPLAN Focus Areas downscaled and applied at the sub-regional level the overall MSP methodology developed by the project. This analysis entered in more details of the site-specific environmental, socio-economic, regulatory and governance conditions, allowing to propose for those areas more focused, precise, short-term and locally applicable measures or recommendations.

Pilot MSP plan in Limassol (Cyprus)

The pilot plan for the coastal and marine area of Limassol (south of Cyprus) reveals a high concentration of activities near the Limassol district and around the ports of Cyprus. More than 60 sea and land activities were analysed for conflicts and compatibilities.

Maritime Spatial Plan for the Cross-Border Area Mangalia - Shabla

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.