Maritime Spatial Planning (North Sea and Baltic Sea)
Funding Mechanism: EMFF| Deadline: 10 Sep 2020 17:00:00 CET

Topic Description:

The objective of this call for proposals is to support the establishment and implementation of Maritime Spatial Plans in line with the objectives pursued in the framework of the MSP Directive. More specifically, this action intends to support Member States in setting up maritime spatial plans and ensuring that plans are coherent and coordinated across marine regions concerned. The deadline for Member States to adopt their Maritime Spatial Plans is 31 March 2021.

In this context, applicants are required to address the following priorities in their proposals:

  1. Support the work of MSP competent authorities and/or inter-ministerial bodies in the establishment and adoption of maritime spatial plans;
  2. Where relevant, support the development of cross-border cooperation on MSP with bordering Member States and third countries with a view to ensure that maritime spatial plans are coherent and coordinated across marine regions concerned;
  3. Making use of the best available data and organise the sharing of information, necessary for maritime spatial plans, by using relevant mechanism and tools (e.g. INSPIRE, EMODNet).

Themes & priorities

Proposals are expected to develop innovative responses to tackle specific challenges that EU Members States might encounter when preparing, establishing or revising their maritime spatial plans.

These challenges should be common to the Member States participating in the project. The shared interest in developing innovative responses can apply within a sea basin and/or across sea basins. This means that a proposal could bring together participants from different Member States, located in different sea basins.


Hereunder is a non-exhaustive list of examples of such challenges/issues:

  1. Climate proofing of MSP: incorporating adaptation and mitigation actions and/or strategies into MSP, making MSP flexible and adaptive to respond to climate change.
  2. MSP as an enabler of the EU's "Green Deal": development of a clean, circular blue economy, preserving and protecting biodiversity in the marine environment (in particular with spatial measures), facilitating the supply of clean, affordable and secure, energy, enabling the provision of healthy and environmentally-friendly food from the sea.
  3. Development of an economic sector (e.g. tourism, offshore wind energy, aquaculture) in the maritime domain: ex-ante assessments (Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment), allocation of sufficient sea space, resolution of conflicts with other uses, enabling synergies with other sectors / activities, etc.
  4. Applying the Ecosystems Based Approach (EBA) in MSP: designing maritime spatial plans to integrate objectives and measures of other EU instruments (e.g. the Marine Strategy Framework Directive) with the aim to reduce collective pressures and ensuring that marine ecosystems are in a healthy, productive and resilient condition.
  5. Addressing gaps and challenges in the collection and use of data in the MSP context: using best available data and instruments to prepare, monitor and revise maritime spatial plans. Developing data tools, models and infrastructures, allowing for interoperability and enabling Member States to share MSP data and information, especially in a cross-border and sea basin context.
  6. Promoting ocean governance through MSP: incorporating oceans' governance tools into the MSP process and in maritime spatial plans. For example by enabling stakeholder participation in governance schemes and instruments (e.g. management of marine resources, protection of the environment or of the underwater cultural heritage) or by promoting cooperation with third countries in issues of common interest in a sea basin or a shared ocean space.

The above list is purely illustrative and applicants might identify other challenges that are specific to them, or to the sea basin(s) where they are located.


Applicants should identify one(or maximum two), challenge(s) and build their proposal around the response(s) to such challenge(s).


At least one project per topic is expected to be funded.


Priority will be given to proposals that build on the outcome of prior MSP related projects, relevant to the objectives of the call. In this context, proposals should describe how they build on, complement and differ from finalised or ongoing research and innovation projects, including from EU programmes, where relevant. In case a proposal includes activities a particular sea basin in which a dedicated sea basin strategy or similar initiative exists, priority will be given to proposals that explain how they contribute to the objectives of the relevant sea basin strategy or initiative.



Activities that can be funded

Applicants should explain in their proposal how they will implement the targeted activities below described, resulting in concrete and measurable results within the project's duration.

Projects must undertake one or more of the following main activities as part of the project implementation:

  • Specific activities aimed at implementing provisions set out in articles 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the MSP Directive (notably the setting-up and adoption of maritime spatial plans);
  • Specific activities aimed at implementing provisions set out in article 10 of the MSP Directive (Data use and sharing);
  • Specific activities aimed at implementing provisions set out in article 11 of the MSP Directive (Cooperation among Member States);
  • Specific activities aimed at implementing provisions set out in article 12 of the MSP Directive (Cooperation with third countries).

In addition, applicants should include in their project the following complementary activities/tasks to support the above core activities:

  • Establishment of a Steering Committee (SC) to ensure the overall strategic steering of the project. The SC should comprise relevant representatives of the Member States where the action takes place (such as MSP competent authorities), as well as the beneficiaries involved. The Commission and EASME may participate in an observer capacity only.
  • Establishment of an Advisory Committee (AC) to provide expert advice on the project's activities. The AC should be composed of a maximum of five recognised experts in MSP or in relevant fields of activity. The Commission and EASME may participate in an observer capacity only.
  • Working procedures defining how the project and the SC will operate (assigning clear roles and responsibilities, describing the decision-making process, frequency of meetings etc.);
  • An opening and closing conference.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to assign dedicated staff to the development and implementation of the proposed communication and dissemination activities. This should be appropriately reflected in the proposed budget.

The list of complementary activities is non-exhaustive. Applicants may propose additional activities, as long as the proposed complementary activity is justified and establishes a coherent link with the project objectives and the objectives of this call.

Networking with other EU projects

During the lifetime of the projects financed under this action, a number of events (no more than once per year) may be organised at EU level for the grant beneficiaries to facilitate the exchange of experience and good practices across sea basins, to foster mutual learning and to enhance the European dimension of Maritime Spatial Planning. Project beneficiaries are expected to participate in these events, which will be held in Brussels or other relevant locations.


Expected Impact:

Expected results

Applicants have to list the main results expected from the project. The expected results to be achieved by the end of the project must be concrete, realistic and time bound and quantifiable as far as possible.

In particular, proposals are expected to:

  • Concretely contribute to the elaboration and adoption of the Maritime Spatial Plans by 2021;
  • Ensure that maritime plans are coherent and coordinated across the marine region concerned;
  • Create a repository of best practices and lessons learnt from the project and a list of achievements of the projects;
  • Produce "policy briefs" that summarise the main results of the project and their relevance for the implementation of the MSP Directive, and include elements of "policy feedback", in particular suggestions for changes / improvements in the current EU policy instruments.

In addition, the proposals should identify specific expected results in relation to the proposed responses to the selected challenge(s). Based on the examples of challenges mentioned in the section "Themes and priorities" hereunder is reported a table illustrating what expected results could correspond to the individual challenges.

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