A full-day seminar “Pondering on the EU Green Paper on Maritime Policy“ was specially devoted to critically debate some pertinent issues raised by the paper in connection with the cross-sectoral approach and linkages at regional level that such a policy would need to adopt. The seminar, which was organized by the International Ocean Institute (IOI) and the IOI-Malta Operational Centre of the University of Malta, was held on Friday, 17th November at the Aula Magna, Foundation for International Studies, Valletta.
This event was a unique opportunity for the academia and institutions to provide their own intellectual thinking and to make a contribution to the European Commission’s endeavours to broaden and intensify the consultations on the proposals within the Green Paper.
On June 2006, the EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Dr. Joe Borg presented the Green Paper to outline the major directions of a future integrated European Union maritime policy. The cross-sectoral approach of the paper highlights the interdependence of the economic, social, political and environmental factors in the governance of the European seas and oceans. The stated aim of the policy is to strengthen the protection of the marine environment while opening up the possibilities of growth and employment. The paper also takes into account the international dimension of coherence, duties and obligations.
The participatory approach taken by the EU to develop the Maritime policy is a welcome and promising initiative that allows all stakeholders to make their input in shaping the final product through an interactive consultative process.
The seminar, which was attended by around 100 people from various marine- and legal-related sectors, including academia, was opened by Dr. Awni Behnam, President of IOI, Prof. Alfred J. Vella, Pro-Rector of the University of Malta and Dr. Aldo Drago, Director of the IOI-Malta Operational Centre. EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg addressed the seminar in the afternoon session, reiterating the major issues raised by the paper and calling on local stakeholders for pro-action and feedback. Other keynote speakers included Mr. Tiago Cunha from the Office of the EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Rev. Prof Peter Serracino Inglott, Chairman of the IOI-MOC Board, and Mr. Ranier Fsadni, Mediterranean Institute, University of Malta. The event was also an occasion to present the prestigious Elisabeth Mann Borgese Medal to Commissioner Dr. Joe Borg.
During the day two Discussion Panels, comprised of local and international experts in the marine and legal fields, were also held. The first discussed “Understanding the Challenges to the Future Maritime Policy of the European Union”, and was led by Amb. Salvino Busuttil, Fondation de Malte. The second was led by Mr. Paul Mifsud, Coordinator of MAP (UNEP) and dealt with “The Regional and International Implications of a Future Maritime Policy for Europe”.
The seminar was held on the wings of the IOI Training Course on Regional Ocean Governance for Mediterranean and Eastern European Countries. At the end of the seminar, the course participants presented a paper calling for an EU flag as an incentive to phase out flags of convenience and stressing the importance of no compromise in the area of fishing, particularly illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Participants also feel that courses such as the IOI Training Course provide mid-career practitioners in various maritime disciplines with greater understanding, harmonization and cooperation with regard to policies, implementation actions and adoption of best practices.