The EESC agrees with the Commission’s assessment that the Atlantic maritime area under the jurisdiction of EU Member States is a key factor in the economic and social development of these countries, as well as of the EU as a whole.
The EESC also points out that where environmental sustainability is concerned, the crucial role of the ocean in decarbonisation, producing oxygen, feeding humans and combating climate change and acidification is recognised by the EU and the UN.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, the heightened importance of the blue economy in driving European recovery and safeguarding and creating jobs has been recognised.
The EESC welcomes the creation of this Atlantic action plan 2.0 on account of the contribution it will make to economic recovery, safeguarding and creating jobs, while also boosting the preservation of coastal and marine ecosystems and contributing to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Linking action plan 2.0 to the principles of the European Green Deal underlines the central role of the blue economy in pursuing sustainability objectives.
The EESC is critical of the lack of objectives and measures concerning fisheries and tourism, and recommends that the Commission give greater weight to these activities in the plan.
The EESC strongly recommends establishing a dedicated funding line for projects developed under action plan 2.0, as exists for other sectors of activity receiving European public funding. Otherwise, there is the risk they will be relegated to applying to funding schemes where they are not the core of the programmes.
The EESC considers that taking on board the recommendations set out in this opinion concerning the evaluation and financing of projects and their supervision and monitoring will help to enhance the quality and scale of the social, economic and environmental results to be achieved by implementing Atlantic action plan 2.0.
Lastly, the EESC considers that the recommendations set out in previous EESC opinions increase the chances of success in implementing the plan, particularly as regards creating an Atlantic macro-region and re-establishing the Atlantic Forum.