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EU Council Endorses 'Blue Growth' Agenda

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

26 June 2013

The European Union's General Affairs Council has endorsed initial progress made under the Blue Growth Strategy, aimed at fostering sustainable economic growth and employment in the marine and maritime sector.

The Council recognized the importance of the various areas targeted by the Strategy, including the LeaderSHIP 2020 program, which aims to promote innovation in, and the diversification of, the shipbuilding industry.

The Council recognized that investment is critical to developing the maritime economy, and encouraged member states to pledge financial support for the initiative.

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs said: "Today's endorsement of the [Strategy by the] Council shows that delivering the potential of the Blue Economy in terms of growth, jobs and competitiveness is a European commitment. Blue growth is a long term political strategy and the support for its first steps is very encouraging."

The "blue economy" represents 5.4 million jobs and a gross added value of just under EUR500bn a year. Damanaki however believes, if properly supported, the sector could grow by around 20 percent each year.

The European Union hopes to foster growth in a number of areas highlighted within the Strategy. For instance it believes there is potential for promoting coastal and cruise tourism and making European coastal resorts more accessible and attractive to tourists from across the world all year round. The strategy also highlights opportunities for growth in other areas such as developing offshore renewable energy technologies, promoting a growing aquaculture sector or supporting research into the blue biotech sector.

The Strategy was unanimously endorsed in October 2012 by European Ministers for Maritime Affairs through the Limassol Declaration on a "Marine and Maritime Agenda" for growth and jobs.

TAGS: marine

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