I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 27 Member States. First of all, we would like to congratulate you on your appointment as co-chairs of this General Assembly Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole. We would also like to express our most sincere gratitude to the Group of Experts for the excellent work carried out so far.
Co-chairs, distinguished delegates,
The EU has traditionally attached great importance to marine environment policy, including assessment and reporting. Therefore the EU strongly supports the Regular Process (RP) and is willing to participate and contribute to it, in line with the proactive participation carried out so far in a number of UN activities within this field.
Two years ago in this same forum, the EU informed that it had recently approved the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), which applies to all our Member States. Let me remind you now that it aims to achieve a good environmental status of all marine waters around Europe by 2020, and its key objective is to make operational the principle of the ecosystem approach, by introducing a regular policy cycle. Each 6 year cycle will include an obligation for each EU Member State to carry out a thorough assessment, very much in line with the UN RP. The EU will be willing to provide more clarifications on its experience on the regular assessments under agenda item 5(b).
In this respect, we would like to highlight that the EU considers that the assessment and reporting process is not an end in itself, but the starting point of a regular policy cycle: setting the objectives to be achieved, elaborating concrete targets and associated indicators, updating monitoring programmes and adopting comprehensive programmes, before starting again this multi-step process. Though the UN RP also suggests that the regular assessment is part of a broader approach in order to tackle the integrated management of activities affecting the marine environment, the EU will call for strengthening this broader management cycle concept. In this respect, socioeconomic is a key assessment component and should be an integral part of any assessment in the RP
During the latest meeting of this Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole, last September, the EU underlined that the RP was called upon to contribute to the review of the implementation of existing and future commitments of States under various international and regional organizations. Let me tell you now that through the Marine Directive, the EU is already exploring some of the challenges that the UN process will have to face, since we have to combine regional efforts in 4 different marine regions, namely the North East Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the Black Sea. This is not an easy task and will require good will efforts for convergence, even at a scale much more modest than the UN RP.
The EU would also recall that we see the presence of a science-policy interface, the inclusion of all major groups of Agenda 21 and proper level of interaction within the UN system as three major characteristics defining the RP.
With regard to other issues that we will address throughout the week, the EU considers for instance the need for a Management and Review Mechanism as a policy prescriptive body for the operations of the Regular Process, the importance of a proper communication strategy, as well as the importance of Member States ownership in the process as the only way to secure that the results of the RP are recognized on the national level. With regard to capacity-building, the EU believes that the genuine added-value of the RP should be in building up on existing structures, identifying the needs and gaps in existing programs, gathering capacity-building offers, improving access and directing States effectively to the most appropriate funding mechanisms.
In order to build a solid process we believe we have to advance step by step as a matter of pragmatism. We are convinced that this process can be gradually enhanced and strengthened in future cycles. For instance, in the long term the process itself should be gradually more institutionalised. Therefore we are of the opinion that throughout this week we should try to reach consensus on the options that are feasible in the medium term under the current financial circumstances.
The EU is looking forward to debating all these issues throughout this week, and we are optimistic that the outcome will be a positive one.
Thank you very much.