The Marine Directive, which came into force in 2008, requires Member States to implement measures to achieve the goal of having all EU seas in ‘good environmental status’ by 2020.

However, the report, which was prepared based on the Commission's assessment of Member States' measures in place and planned, concluded that ‘achieving good environmental status by 2020 across all European marine regions remains unlikely’.

This is due to several weaknesses in the programmes of measures (PoMs), and gaps in coordination between countries, explains Seas at Risk, an organization of environmental NGOs.

With less than two years to go before 2020, the measures put in place by Member States to tackle one of the biggest environmental problems today, the degrading health of our seas, are extremely weak in the face of the challenge. Our own analysis of the measures needed to stop overfishing and tackle the plastics issue clearly showed that Member States need to take much more ambitious action to save our seas, including entirely rethinking our production and consumption systems,

...says Alice Belin, Seas At Risk Marine Policy Officer.

While the Commission commends Member States for their endeavours, it points to shortcomings in their approach to tackling pollution and the loss of marine biodiversity, such as fragmented efforts to address transboundary problems.

Only one-quarter of the measures put forward by Member States are new, while others are actions that were already due to be undertaken by Member States, many of which are not yet actioned. Less than half of Member States believe that their measures will lead to clean and healthy seas by 2020, setting themselves up for failure before even trying.

...For certain pressures of transboundary nature, the lack of regional or EU coordination potentially leads to a fragmented and ineffective approach to tackling the pressure. In the case of plastic marine litter, the problem is now being addressed through action at EU level, notably through the European strategy for plastics in a circular economy and its subsequent actions,

...the report reads.

In April 2018, a joint position paper by several environmental NGOs made it clear that political will from EU governments is crucial for healthy seas, which require three key steps:

  • Eliminate pollution input to the sea.
  • Stop overfishing.
  • Prevent the destruction of marine biodiversity by human activities.

Find the report herebelow: