Oceans, seas and coasts form a very unique part of Europe's territory. The European Union controls more sea than land, giving it the largest maritime territory in the world.

The seas and coasts constitute a great source of wealth both in terms of economic potential and natural resources. Coastal regions make up over 40% of Europe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But they also show themselves to be fragile areas. Economic activities such as maritime transport are undergoing radical transformation and the ecosystems of coastal regions are particularly affected by the consequences of human activity.

The horizontal approach is imperative in these areas. Incidentally, this is what motivated the launch by the European Commission, in 2004, of an integrated maritime policy, aiming to make coherent the public policies of Europe.

But for now, the Parliament has not completely taken measure of this imperative. Subjects relating to seas and coastal regions are always examined in a very scattered way, shared between a large number of parliamentary committees. The intergroup was created precisely to give MEPs a working structure capable of acting horizontally and across party lines.

The "Seas and Coastal Areas" intergroup has two main objectives. First we aim to become more influential on current negotiations by guaranteeing better coordination between MEPs. But our ambition goes beyond this: we wish to become a genuine force for new initiatives through to close collaboration with all concerned actors, whether they are representatives of these territories, unions, the private sector or NGOs.

The intergroup includes some 40 MEPs taken from almost all of the Parliament's political groups.

Signature Corinne Lepage