Workshop on Strategic Cooperation on Blue Growth in the North Sea

Workshop report 

In September 2013, the European Parliament approved a preparatory action - a regional strategy for the North Sea region to support cross-sectorial maritime cooperation in the North Sea region through a bottom-up process engaging stakeholders in workshops on funding, space and resource management, environmental issues and innovation. It aims to: 

  • Raise awareness of the potential of EU sea-basin cooperation for the implementation of EU legislation related to Blue Growth, marine and maritime issues including the Maritime Spatial Planning and Marine Strategy Framework Directives, the Renewable Energy Directive and the Common Fisheries Policy;
  • Raise awareness on the need for cross-sectoral cooperation at sea-basin level to avoid conflicts on space use, allow for sustainable use of resources and stimulate the development of offshore renewable energy production;
  • Enable cooperation across the North Sea basin, building on existing fora;
  • Give guidance to stakeholders and potential project promoters;
  • Liaise with managing authorities of EU funding programs;
  • Help stakeholders identify funding for marine and maritime-related projects at EU and national levels; and bring together projects partners to develop cross-sectoral activities.

The first workshop under the «Preparatory action» explored the opportunities and challenges in the energy sector, involving a number of key stakeholders as speakers and panelists. In June 2016 the European Commission, hosted by the Dutch province Zuid Holland organized a second workshop on Strategic Blue Growth cooperation in the North Sea Region. The aim was to identify needs and potential priorities for public private cooperation which can develop new opportunities within the blue economy.

Throughout three sessions the workshop focused on (i) defining priorities, (ii) figure out necessary actions, and (iii) mobilizing resources.

The following priorities were highlighted for transnational cooperation:

  • Naturally «derived» products from the sea
    • Securing the long-term potential of the North Sea as a source of nutrition and health benefits.
  • Clean maritime operations (shipping, ports, etc.)
    • Maintaining the competitive position of North Sea maritime sector by minimizing the environmental costs to industry and society.
  • Skills and technologies with multi-use applications for Blue Growth value chains
    • Exploiting the potential for applying new methods (e.g. big data applications), land-sea technology and economic «cross-overs» and renewing the skills base of the blue economy.

Possible flagship actions:

  • Setting up a transnational partnership between clusters, business, universities and other knowledge and education providers for blue growth, modeled on the existing European «Knowledge and Innovation Communities»;
  • Pooling funding in a Joint Programming Instrument to invest in transnational blue growth innovation projects;
  • Including a blue growth priority axis and blue growth flagship operations within the INTERREG North Sea Programme;
  • Setting up a cross-border financial instrument to support blue growth demonstration projects in the North Sea;
  • Creating a competition for innovative cross-over solutions for blue growth targeting, in particular, young people; and
  • Setting up a scheme to place young graduates as innovation assistants in blue economy SMEs.

Full report: Workshop on strategic cooperation on Blue Growth in the North Sea

By Martine Farstad