Biodiversity related requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive


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This practice researches the overlap between the MSFD and other EU and international laws and agreements. It investigates where do synergies exist and includes the opinions of international experts in the Baltic Sea Region.

Sea Basin(s): 
Application in MSP: 
Taken into account in an MSP process
Nature protection
Type of Issue: 
Ecosystem-based approach
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Habitats and Birds Directive
Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Renewable Energy Directive
Strategic Environmental Assessment
Water Framework Directive

Questions this practice may help answer

  • Where is overlap between the MSFD and other EU and international laws and agreements and where do synergies exist?
  • What is the opinion of international experts in the Baltic Sea on the implementation of the MSFD and the related EU laws?

Implementation Context

The EU directives in synergy with the MSFD – the Habitats Directive, the Birds Directive and the Water Framework Directive – differ from the international agreements in that they are legally binding. In addition, the EU Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy set expectations on assessing the biodiversity status in the marine areas. The important international agreements related to MSFD are the UN Convention on Biodiversity and the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, of which especially the latter joins the only non member state Russia into tight collaboration. The MSFD is overarching in the sense that it is expected to link the requirements of these laws, policies and agreements together, and support coordination of the implementation through regional sea conventions. While some of the directives are already operational within the Member States, the MSFD is only taking its first steps.

Aspects / Objectives

  • Compare the requirements of the EU and international laws and agreements and searches for synergy within.
  • Summarize some of the opinions of national experts working with the implementation of these commitments in Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Sweden.


The work is based mainly on the legal analysis performed by the partners and expert interviews in the partner states. The action was implemented from 1st October 2010 till 30th June 2011.

Main Outputs / Results

The following table presents the obligations in the MSFD covered by the other directives and policies, according to the legal analysis.

Monitoring obligations in the MSFD covered by the other directives and policies, according to the legal analysis are presented in the following table. HELCOM monitoring has been left out of the table, since it will be revised by 2013.


The views from national experts can be read in the document starting at page 23.


The analysis is not site specific and is therefore relevant for the entire European Union, where the same legislation is applicable.

Costs / Funding Source

LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity project “Innovative approaches for marine biodiversity monitoring and assessment of conservation status of nature values in the Baltic Sea” (MARMONI)

Responsible Entity