MSP Platform

Assistance Mechanism for the Implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning

Lead Partner:
s.Pro – sustainable projects GmbH
Total budget:
€ 4.8 M
Project duration:
2016 – 2019

Maritime policy and blue growth

Uses in Europe’s sea areas are increasing, leading to potential conflicts and competition for maritime space among users. Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is a strategy to help minimize conflicts, create synergies, support sustainable maritime economies, and preserve the marine environment. The EU Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (2014/89/EU) promotes sustainable growth of maritime activities by establishing a framework for the implementation of MSP in EU waters. With the adoption of the Directive, all coastal EU Member States are required to prepare cross-sectoral maritime spatial plans by 2021.

To provide administrative and technical support to Member States in implementing the MSP Directive, the European Commission has launched the Assistance Mechanism, known as the European MSP Platform. The Assistance Mechanism provides practical information to Member States, and prepares technical studies and meetings, which are linked to implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (2014/89/EU). 

The partner consortium, under the leadership of s.Pro, brings together a mixture of MSP experts, universities and consultants across all European sea-basins to ensure services are designed to meet Member States' needs regarding MSP implementation. s.Pro provides overall management and support to all project partners in implementation, including administrative and financial management as well as communication activities. This includes the following tasks:
  • Key organizational responsibility for studies, Focal Points, Website, Project assistance and funding opportunities,
  • Host of Baltic Sea and North Sea Focal Point,
  • Organisation of conferences, expert group meetings and workshops,
  • Design and maintenance of Assistance Mechanism website,
  • Preparation of project related presentations and informational materials,
  • Lead knowledge teams,
  • Support in the establishment of the contractual framework of the project,
  • Financial Management and coordination of overall project budget,
  • Regular reporting to European Commission on technical and financial project progress.
Funded by DG MARE, the European MSP Platform acts as the central exchange forum for the rich knowledge generated in past, current and upcoming MSP processes and projects. This will allow officials, planners and other stakeholders interested in MSP to build on what is already available, avoid duplication of efforts, assist in capacity building and foster development of new practices.

The European MSP Platform is an information and communication gateway designed to offer support to all EU Member States in their efforts to implement Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the years to come. Our approach for the European MSP Platform is based on the following basic principles:
  • give and take
  • knowing who knows – to connect the right people
  • personal approach – to act as your trusted partner
  • find specifics through a broad resource
  • a service to all EU Member States
Services provided under the Assistance Mechanism include:
  • Technical studies on MSP: For subjects where gaps in knowledge exist, studies are conducted on subjects defined by the European Commission in cooperation with Member State experts. In 2016, the EU MSP Platform has undertaken a study on the topic of MSP Data (Evaluation of data and knowledge gaps to implement MSP). In 2017, the topic of the study was ‘Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) for Blue Growth’, divided into three sub-studies: Handbook for developing visions in MSPSector Fiches, and Handbook for MSP Indicators Development. There are separate references provided for the completed studies. For 2018, the EU MSP Platform will conduct two studies, on the topic of Spatial conflicts in MSP: How to identify and address conflicting maritime spatial demands? and How to conduct cross-border consultation on MSP plans within the EU and with EU MS neighbours.
  • Support for Member States: Useful information on the implementation of MSP is generated and disseminated via a Focal Point service in each of the European sea basins and one central dedicated MSP website: This website, run by s.Pro, contains an extensive database of MSP practices that can be searched according to the specific needs of a planner within the given MSP cycle. The information made available is generated from a continuous screening of past and on-going experiences generated in MSP projects and processes. s.Pro also led development of a Topic Paper on MSP, which screened and assessed the current knowledge available in relation to the most urgent needs expressed by EU MSP authorities. This work formed the basis for the current set of FAQs on the EU MSP Platform, where users are guided to specific practices and projects in relation to a specific question. Among others, the FAQs also contain a section in relation to questions on how to organise transboundary cooperation and consultation.
  • Support for the European Commission: s.Pro continuously organizes and facilitates numerous the meetings of the EU MSP expert group as well as organising an additional set of European-wide workshops and conferences. Topics covered so far included ‘International MSP’ (incl. ABNJs), how to apply the ecosystem-based approach, land-sea interactions as well as MSP visions, future developments of maritime sectors and the development of indicators for MSP. In all instances we do not only moderate the meetings, but also provide the related discussion material as well as documentation. The consortium will also support the organization of a workshop on the topic of ‘MSP for Island Communities’ in the autumn of 2018 as well as facilitate the organization of the 1st joint EC DG MARE – IOC UNESCO International Forum for Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning Kick-off event.
The EU MSP Platform also organises dedicated workshops on a range of topics of high relevance to MSP, including capacity building for EU Member States. Many MSP authorities may have ideas and interests in certain topics, but not always have the resources at hand to design and develop a dedicated workshop or roundtable. The EU MSP Platform may assist Member States with organising such events, whereby the focus is on active knowledge exchange and expert advice. Expert roundtables focus on what kind of (good) practices can be shared and potentially integrated into parallel on-going work in similar initiatives throughout Europe, and how this knowledge could be better aligned in future. Documentation of such roundtables is disseminated to the MSP authorities of all Member States. Such workshops have been organised:
  • for the Romanian MSP authority, with input from the Belgian MSP authority as well as several EU MSP Platform Focal Points.
  • on Socio-economics and MSP
  • on Cumulative Impact Assessment Tools.
Further such expert roundtables are planned for the remainder of 2018. 

MSP data study - Evaluation of data and knowledge gaps to implement MSP

136 Pages, PDF 1.8 MB (Winter 2016)
The MSP Data Study, undertaken on behalf of DG MARE between February and December 2016, presents an overview of what data and knowledge are needed by Member States for MSP decision making, taking into account different scales and different points in the MSP cycle. It examines current and future MSP data and knowledge issues from various perspectives (i.e. from Member States, Sea Basin(s) as well as projects and other relevant initiatives).