The European Commission recently organised a Workshop on “Regional cooperation on energy and maritime spatial planning in the North Sea”. The workshop was part of the European Parliament Preparatory Action which is to examine the added value and growth potential associated with coordinated cooperation in the North Sea region, as under a macro-regional strategy.

This event took place in Edinburgh(UK) on 29th January and aimed to bring together stakeholders from the energy, fisheries, transport, shipping and environmental fields as well as national authorities and representatives of existing cooperation bodies in the North Sea to discuss how to answer the energy challenges at sea-basin level in a strategic way.

Bernhard Friess, Director at DG Mare, represented the European Commission in the workshop. During his speech, he underlined that the existing cooperation effort in the North Sea basin is a comparative advantage for the region and he focused on the investment gap for fulfilling the potential of the renewable sector. According to Director Friess, only working collectively in a comprehensive way and involving all stakeholders will be the way to tackle common challenges in the North Sea. Moreover, he pointed out that maritime spatial planning needs to be instrumentalised as a tool for more coherent management of the North Sea.

The CPMR –which was also involved in the organisation of the event – was represented by Tom-Christer Nilsen, County Mayor of Hordaland Council (NO) and President of the CPMR North Sea Commission that chaired one of the sessions and participated in the work conclusions. During his speech, he highlighted the role of the CPMR North Sea Commission and the large opportunities existing in the North Sea Region which need to be unlocked. After welcoming the Preparatory Action, President Nilsen hoped this event would be the first step towards a sea-basin strategy for the North Sea and emphasised a clear sense of urgency to improve a cross-sector dialogue in the area. “There is a clear call for better cooperation, coordination and commitment and the responsibility lies at the political level, but with a stakeholder involvement”, he declared.