In 2008, the EU adopted the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)
. Its primary objective was to achieve good environmental status of EU seas by 2020, which the EU failed to do.
In 2020, the European Commission published the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030
, which the European Parliament adopted in 2021. It seeks to address the global biodiversity crisis, which includes securing effective protection and management for at least 30% of EU seas, with a minimum 10% set aside as strictly protected by 2030.
In June 2022, the European Commission published its proposal for an EU nature restoration law
as part of the Biodiversity Strategy. These legally-binding targets include the overarching objective for area-based restoration measures on 20% of the EU land and sea area by 2030, as well as for all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.
Why it matters
The EU has so far failed in its commitments to marine protection, with less than 2% of the EU's marine area covered by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with management plans in 2019, despite 12.4% being designated for protection
. With the EU institutions now in the process of agreeing the pioneering EU nature restoration law
, the WWF EPO is advocating that no human activities at sea should compromise the law’s targets to restore Europe’s seas and coastlines.
European seas that are thriving and full of life are those guided by ecosystem-based Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
. This will contribute to a sustainable blue economy
in which critical marine habitats are effectively protected through networks of MPAs. Action is required from the EU institutions to deliver across the spectrum, from national MSP that is ecosystem-based, down to co-management of local restoration projects and MPAs.
What WWF is doing
The EPO, with the support of WWF’s national and regional offices, is advocating and intervening at the EU level to hold both the European Commission and Member States accountable for promoting and coherently delivering on ecosystem-based marine and biodiversity policy targets, including a strong nature restoration law, minimum 30% effective marine protection by 2030 and for all Member States to embrace an ecosystem-based approach to MSP.