The unique characteristics of the Baltic Sea mean that its marine environment is highly sensitive. Human activities – causing eutrophication, overfishing, physical disturbance, hazardous substances, oil spills, and invasive species – are putting it under increasing pressure. Shipping activity and large-scale infrastructure developments (e.g. offshore wind parks and installation of gas pipes and cables) will only intensify this pressure in the coming years.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), adopted in 2008, is the EU framework for action in the field of marine environmental policy. The MSFD sets targets for achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) in European seas by the year 2020. The MSFD requires EU Member States to prepare initial assessments – including economic and social analyses – of their marine waters. It also requires that the marine strategies created by countries be “coherent and coordinated across the marine region or sub-region concerned”.

Estonia, Finland, Latvia, and Sweden initiated an EU Central Baltic INTERREG-funded project, Good Environmental Status through Regional Coordination and Development (GES-REG), to help harmonize the implementation of the MSFD in the central and northeastern Baltic Sea. Within the project, the project partners exchanged information and experiences, and analyzed the economic and social aspects of marine water use, improved the information base for the development of business as usual (BAU) scenarios, and assessed the costs of degradation. The results of the project provide input into the analysis of the cost-effectiveness and socio-economic impact of measures under the MSFD. This policy brief summarizes the main findings from the project, and makes recommendations for developing cost-effective and efficient Programmes of Measures to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020.

Download the policy brief (PDF, 1.9MB)