European policy | JPI OCEANS

European policy

Several bodies at European level agree on priorities for marine and maritime research policy. In addition, marine and maritime research is partly funded through European initiatives. An overview of the broad landscape can be found below.

European Commission - general policy context

The Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG R&I) of the European Commission is responsible for the European research and innovation policy. Important concepts and strategies are the Open Science and Open Innovation, the Innovation Union, the European Research Area (ERA) and the establishment of a European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. In addition, DG R&I is also responsible for the funding of research, for example by means of European framework programmes such as the current Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) and the upcoming Horizon Europe (2021-2027) which is currently being conceived.

For the implementation of its policy, DG R&I collaborates with various departments of the EC and agencies such as the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA), Research Executive Agency (REA), Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), Joint Research Centre (JRC), etc.

Integrated Maritime Policy and the MSFD

The Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) is a cornerstone in these policies. The IMP aims at a more coherent approach to maritime issues and a higher degree of coordination between the different policy domains involved. The IMP integrates a number of transversal policy instruments in the fields of Blue Growth, Marine Knowledge (see below), Maritime Spatial Planning, Integrated Maritime Surveillance and Sea Region Strategies. Marine Knowledge 2020 is considered by the EC as an important component within the IMP for centralising marine data from different sources.

The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) addresses the environmental aspects of the IMP, and provides a joint framework and goals for the protection and conservation of the marine environment. The MSFD aims for a ‘good environmental status’ (GES) for all seas under the jurisdiction of the Member States by 2020, with the maintenance of biological diversity as the main objective.

European funding instruments for marine research

The EC disposes of various instruments for the funding of research, important mechanisms for the current marine research community are:

  • Horizon 2020 (2014-2020), which included marine research as a transversal priority
  • The Structural Funds, including the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which finances the Interreg program (III, IV, V)
  • The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF, 2014 - 2020), in support of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the IMP
  • The Programme for Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME) (2014-2020)


ERA-NET Cofunds are (partly) funded with Horizon 2020, launching joint calls for transnational research and innovation in areas with significant added value for Europe. Several of these ERA-NET Cofunds address a marine theme (e.g. MarTERA Cofund on marine/maritime technologies, OCEANERA-NET Cofund on Ocean Energy, ERA-NET Cofund on Blue Bioeconomy). Finally, the European Investment Bank (EIB) also invests in large-scale research infrastructure.

European networks for marine research and innovation

There are several consortia and networks involved with European marine research and innovation. The European Marine Board (EMB) operates at the interface between marine research and policy and develops common positions on research priorities for European marine research. The EurOCEAN conferences provide a forum for the marine research community to interface with European and member state policymakers and strategic planners. In the context of these conferences, the European research community has contributed to shaping the European vision for marine research through various declarations such as the Rome Declaration 2014 on the relationship between ocean sciences and blue growth.

Furthermore, there are several examples of (thematic) partnerships between innovation and research institutes of which the European Marine Research Network (EUROMARINE); the European Fisheries and Aquaculture Research Organisation (EFARO), the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform (EATIP), the European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS), the European Network of Marine Research Institutes and Stations (MARS), the EU Technology Platform Waterborne and EurOcean are just a few.

Source: Compendium Coast and Sea            
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