The European Commission is to deepen its cooperation with the European Investment Bank Group to help finance a sustainable maritime economy as part of Europe’s Green Deal recovery plan.

The commission has urged European Union member states to include investments for a sustainable blue economy in national recovery plans and operational programmes for EU funds from now to 2027.

Increased financial cooperation will include partners in the banking group: the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund.

In a communication to the European Parliament, the EC warned that a third of investments in the blue economy could still be unsustainable by 2030, the year by which by the EU aspires to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% of 1990 levels.

Europe is looking to become climate neutral by 2050 and the EC said maritime transport would be included in the aim of the European Green Deal to achieve a 90% reduction in GHG emissions from all modes of transportation.

If the global blue economy were compared with a national economy, it would be the seventh largest in the world, the EC said, and the ocean as an economic entity would be a member of the G7.

Frans Timmermans, executive vice president for the Green Deal, said: “Healthy oceans are a precondition for a thriving blue economy.

Mainstreaming sustainability

“We must change tack and develop a sustainable blue economy where environmental protection and economic activities go hand in hand.”

The EC said the mainstreaming of sustainability issues into transport investment decisions would involve the decarbonising of maritime transport and greening of ports, alongside developing offshore renewable energy.

A switch to a circular economy would also include ship recycling and decommissioning of offshore platforms as much as renewed standards for fishing, and action to reduce plastics and microplastics pollution.

A new Blue Forum for users of the sea to coordinate a dialogue between operators, stakeholders and scientists aims to stimulate a cooperative exchange of ideas and knowledge on the sustainable use of the marine environment, the EC said.

A report on the implementation of the EU Directive on maritime spatial planning will be issued in 2022.