DG Mare organised the first stakeholder event under the preparatory action in Edinburgh 29 January 2015.  More than 170 participants from all countries around the North Sea participated in the conference, representing different governmental levels, academia, industry and NGOs. The topic of the first conference was regional cooperation on energy and maritime spatial planning in the North Sea. These are two areas where we see a clear added value of cooperation and stakeholder involvement.

The European Parliament granted 250 000 euros for a preparatory action for the North Sea end of 2013, based on an application from the North Sea Commission. The aim of this preparatory action is to analyse the North Sea region’s growth potential and use the findings to investigate the added value of having a future shared macro regional strategy for the North Sea area.

Main messages from the event:

  • We need to think about the North Sea as one single area, developing a holistic approach. A common vision for the North Sea must be developed.
  • We must ensure a balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection
  • We need member states commitment to move forward
  • We need to work together in a comprehensive way, involving all stakeholders, to meet common challenges.
  • To unlock the energy potential in the North Sea we need to cooperate on regulatory and fiscal solutions in order to be able to build infrastructure and systems
  • Costs for offshore renewables must be reduced and there is a need for coordinated investments
  • A meshed grid has a proven cost benefit and is therefore the preferred solution for the North Sea, also because it allows for more space for alternative users
  • The North Sea has the potential to be the power house of Europe. Clear predictable plans for maritime space must be in place to realise the potential
  • Maritime spatial planning is all about communication, cooperation and coordination