The Chairmen of the national Maritime Clusters of Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom came to Brussels on July 2nd 2015 upon invitation of the European Commission. Commissioner Karmenu Vella , MEP Gesine Meissner (Head of the Intergroup Seas, Rivers, Islands & Coastal Areas) and Francis Vallat (Chairman of the European Network of Maritime Clusters ENMC) introduced the jointly organized meeting, which was also attended by representatives of DGMare, and allowed the national Maritime Clusters to present their views on the way to strengthen Blue Growth All chairmen expressed their satisfaction to participate in this three-hour meeting and caught this opportunity to unanimously and repeatedly stress the urgent need for two prerequisite tools in order to go forward.
They firstly underlined once more that blue economy can only be measured, and then more efficiently developed, if and when maritime decision-makers have the use of a reliable, homogeneous and independent data-base for the whole European maritime activities, with facts and figures established and regularly updated along common criteria. To date very few countries are able to give undisputable data about their respective maritime sector and sub-sectors. The first tool which is critically needed is then a survey made of indisputable figures, with appropriate and comparable breakdowns of same. To reach that goal, big but surmountable complications and difficulties have to be overcome (such as common definitions, scopes of activities, direct jobs or notetc…). It is in that spirit that all national clusters support the idea that the European Commission itself takes the lead on a pre-study meant to waive such methodological difficulties and develop adapted specifications (as recommended by ENMC in a “terms of references” document, circulated in Jan 2014 and which was reviewing the guidelines as deemed useful or necessary by the industry, (including a.o a peer review).
The second paramount priority is to accelerate the already powerful move towards a “full” European Maritime Cluster. So far national Maritime Clusters have done a lot to promote/develop the Blue economy and improve the dialogue with the Brussels European bodies. Similarly the ENMC revealed to be an efficient coordination tool. But no doubt that the ultimate set-up of an integrated European cluster would be more than instrumental for improving the co-operation between the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the professional themselves. Given the fact that economic actors already fund their irreplaceable professional/sectorial federations and their national maritime clusters, the ENMC members repeat the necessity that the European Commission – in line with its official statements – confirms its participation in the necessary seed capital of the European Maritime Cluster EMC (to emerge from the current network of national clusters) .
ENMC Chairman Francis Vallat told: “Following the Green and of Blue Books recommendations, the official wish of the Commission, and the quality of our current dialogue with Brussels authorities, time has come for the EC to confirm its intention to share the efforts which we, maritime clusters pioneers, made at the service of Blue Growth. We expect positive decisions to be made before September re the survey/data-base, and before end year re the seed capital of the future EMC”