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Recherche et développement régional durable

Corinne Larrue

Session 4. Les territoires du développement durable et le rôle du niveau régional / Territorial entities and sustainable development : the role of the regional level

Multi-level cooperation in integrated coastal zone management

Anne Burrill

Texte intégral

  • 1 European Commission, DG Environment, Bruxelles, Belgique.

1Note portant sur l’auteur1

2The purpose of this presentation is to outline what the EU is doing to address the challenges of planning and management in the coastal zone. In particular, I will focus on how EU actions relate to - and attempt to promote - actions at the regional and local level.

3The EU has recently launched a European Strategy for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). This strategy is the result of a three year demonstration programme (1996 to 1999) designed to identify best practice in ICZM and to determine the proper role of the EU in ensuring the application of ICZM. The programme was specifically intended to lead towards a proposal for a European ICZM Strategy, in response to repeated requests from the Council and the European Parliament for such a strategy. Jointly managed by the DGs for Environment, for Regional Policy and for Fisheries, the programme was centered around 35 pilot projects, representing the diversity of conditions across Europe. While each pilot project faced its own specific problems on the ground, all of the projects tested methodologies for promoting policy coordination and for developing coherent, integrated solutions through a process of informed participation.

4The demonstration programme also included various research projects co-financed by DG Research and DG JRC, with the participation of the European Environment Agency ; these projects were designed either to provide information on the state of the coastal zones or an understanding of their dynamics as an input to policy development, or to develop tools for use by local and regional ICZM initiatives.

5A series of six thematic studies were commissioned to extract the global lessons from the demonstration projects in key areas such as "The Role of Information" and "Territorial and Sectoral Cooperation". These reports and all of the other technical outputs of the demonstration programme are available on the Commission's ICZM Web page at​comm/​environment/​iczm/​home.htm. This page also includes the document used in 1999 to launch a broad consultation concerning the role of the EU in promoting ICZM, a summary of the consultation responses, and the final conclusions of the demonstration programme.

6The final conclusions were presented in September 2000 as a Communication from the Commission to the Council and European Parliament on Integrated Coastal Zone Management : A Strategy for Europe (COM/00/547). This document confirms the interrelationship between the physical / biological problems in the coastal zone and the social / cultural / economic problems in the same areas. It also notes that these interrelated problems can be attributed to a series of underlying problems such as lack of understanding, inadequate stakeholder involvement, inappropriate and uncoordinated policy and legislation, rigid and uncoordinated administrative systems (these latter two at all administrative levels) and a lack of resources and support for local initiatives. An integrated territorial approach is required to address these problems, and should be based on a series of principles outlined in annex I of COM/00/547.

7Among the principles identified is the need for a "holistic" perspective. While it may not be possible to address all of the issues facing a given coastal zone, this principle implies the need for an open consultation with the local and regional stakeholders to identify the priority issues and to then consider all of the factors related to these issues. The principle also implies the need to ensure that the appropriate land and sea areas are included, even though these areas may not correspond to administrative boundaries.

8Another principle mentions the need to base actions on an understanding of the specific conditions in the area of interest. This implies the need for a system for monitoring and diffusion of information about conditions at the local and regional scale. It also implies that, in view of the diversity of coastal zones in Europe, the EU level cannot provide detailed guidelines on "the best" approach to ICZM.

9It is also worth mentioning the principle that stipulates the involvement and support of all relevant administrative bodies. This principle requires the development of procedures to ensure a real partnership between levels of administration, based on a two way communication process.

10The Commission's Communication concludes that, on the basis of the experiences of the Demonstration Programme, there is a need for an EU Strategy to promote ICZM. This strategy will be embody the concept of good governance in partnership with civil society, will attempt to concurrently address the many problems of the coastal zones, and will work towards the involvement of all administrative levels.

11The Commission recognises that the local level is the cornerstone for concrete action in ICZM while the regional level can provide a strategic outlook and help to coordinate between local municipalities. The role of the national administration is to ensure the necessary legal and statutory framework, while the EU should provide leadership and guidance.

12The specificity of the regional level comes from the fact that it is the level at which national and EU legislation start evolving into real actions on the ground. It is therefore at this level where there is the strongest need to bring together the different policy sectors. The regional level is also a good level for overcoming some of the very real economic and political pressures that sometimes lead local administrations to take short-term actions, and for providing coherence between neighboring municipalities.

13The EU strategy for ICZM outlines 38 specific areas in which the EU will act to promote ICZM. Grouped into 6 general fields, these actions work through existing policies wherever possible, but also include a limited number of new actions. All of the measures are intended to respect the diversity of conditions in the various coastal zones of Europe.

14Within the field of promoting action inside the Member States and at the Meso-Regional level, the Commission announced its intentions to produce a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Recommendation to the Member States on ICZM. This proposal has been presented (COM/00/545) and is now being considered by the other institutions. The proposed Recommendation calls on Member States to develop national ICZM Strategies, which among other things, should promote bottom-up actions and should identify sources of financing for ICZM initiatives.

15In the category of actions for "Making EU Policies Compatible with ICZM", the EU Strategy for ICZM highlights the importance of better implementation and enforcement of existing policies. This is clearly something to be undertaken in cooperation with all of the other levels of administration. Furthermore, the regions have a role to play in ensuring that new EU policies are compatible with the principles of integrated territorial management, by providing input at the policy development stage concerning the specific needs and conditions in specific regions.

16The EU Strategy announces that the Commission will support an ICZM "practitioners network". This network is intended as a direct support to the planners and managers at the local and regional level. It should serve as a conduit for exchange of best practices, for diffusion of relevant scientific results and for articulation of needs.

17In the area of knowledge generation and diffusion, the E.U. also makes a commitment to assume its responsibilities. However, the E.U.'s actions in this area must clearly be complemented by actions at the national, regional and local level to meet specific needs.

18The E.U. looks forward to a reinforced collaboration with the actors at the regional level in promoting sustainable development in the coastal zones. It also hopes that these actions in the coastal zones will serve as inspiration for multi-level collaboration in other parts of the territory.


1 European Commission, DG Environment, Bruxelles, Belgique.

© Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2002

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