European Partnership for a climate neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy

European Partnership for a climate neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy
Europe’s seas and ocean do not stop at national borders, nor do the challenges they face. Many of the issues are common throughout European seas and the Atlantic, even globally. A major effort is needed to increase the development of ocean science, research, technological developments and innovation, both to protect the ocean and to increase the resilience of its ecosystems and to ensure a strong sustainable blue economy and science-based design of marine spatial planning, involving all stakeholders. No nation can face this on its own and undertake the investments in research, technology and innovation that are needed to steer new business, governance and social developments.
Many of the identified research priorities and activities of the EU and individual countries are similar and, therefore, require alignment over all European seas and ocean. Existing and new funding streams from national, public and private sources will need to be pooled, together with EU funding, in order to maximise efforts and achieve efficiency gains. To address these issues, sea basin-specific Research and Innovation Agendas (RIAs) have been developed for the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, and the Black Sea. An impact-driven and coherent approach needs to be designed to combine all of these research and innovation agendas, in order to structure the European landscape, so that common issues can be addressed jointly, and national marine strategies are developed in a consistent way.
The partnership should catalyse the transformation of Europe’s blue economy towards climate neutral status by 2050. By aligning national, regional and EU R&I priorities and bringing together science, industry, governance and society, it should deliver knowledge and solutions to make the blue economy sustainable. Responding to national and EU policy goals (e.g. European Green Deal, Marine Strategy Framework Directive), the partnership should aim to achieve a healthy ocean, a sustainable and productive blue economy and the well-being of citizens.
The partnership should increase scientific contributions, applicable in a legal/regulatory context, related to biodiversity, ecosystem conservation and restoration, climate mitigation and adaptation, and pollution, including eutrophication, noise, marine litter and hazardous substances, and should facilitate the use of scientific knowledge by regulators and policy-makers, contributing to the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, the farm to fork strategy, the mission in the area “Ocean, seas and waters”, the circular economy action plan and the zero pollution ambition.
The partnership should promote technological, nature-based, social, economic and cultural innovation and experiment with new planning, governance, business and finance models. It should also contribute to the future EU initiative on ocean observation, to the development of a common European ocean data space, to the Ocean Digital Twin and to the implementation of the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS).
The partnership should put the emphasis on the development of basin- or Europe-wide holistic, integrated, systemic and cross-sectoral approaches and foster co-creation processes involving all relevant stakeholders and actors, while remaining operationally manageable. It should engage local, regional and national authorities, industry and businesses, including SMEs, knowledge institutions and citizens through Open Science and an inclusive governance, policy and decision-making. It should harness the full potential of social sciences and humanities (SSH), social innovation and citizen engagement to deliver portfolios of solutions, measures and tools and facilitate their replication, and upscaling. In particular, this topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines.
It should contribute to improve the quality of life and long-term socio-economic prospects of coastal communities, including women, youth and the most vulnerable groups like indigenous people, in the context of major transitions and rising threats to climate, resources and health, including by increasing their resilience to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with the European Commission’s political vision of leaving no one behind, the wide diversity and heterogeneity in levels of socio-economic, technological, institutional, innovation and skills potential should be taken into account.
The European Partnership for a climate neutral, sustainable and productive blue economy should be implemented through a joint programme of activities for high impact, relevance and capacity building, ranging from research to coordination and networking activities, including training, demonstration, communication and dissemination activities in all research and innovation projects of the partnership. Emphasis should be given to demonstration, upscaling and experimentation calls.
To ensure effective and smooth implementation, three dedicated pillars of activities within the partnership are needed:
1. Implementation of joint activities in particular calls for proposals with co-funding from the Union.
2. Implementation of joint activities without co-funding from the Union.
3. A broad set of activities supporting coordination, international cooperation and outreach, uptake of results etc.
These activities should be structured along the following main building blocks of activities:
• Development of work programmes as implementation steps of the high-level Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). This SRIA should be included in the proposal, outlining implementation modalities and building on existing SRIAs or equivalent in the EU sea basins. It should include the demonstration of the achievability of policy targets at sea-basin scale.
• Joint calls for challenge-driven R&I to address critical issues for a sustainable climate-neutral blue economy with integrated and multi-stakeholder approaches.
• Setting-up a multi-stakeholder community of practice to facilitate science-policy-business-society dialogues, share experiences and disseminate results and innovations on key issues for social transition and sustainable development.
• Undertaking communication and dissemination measures to make R&I results accessible for all stakeholder groups and users and prepare guidelines, references, tools and trainings for replication and mainstreaming; communicating to citizens and civil society at large, and involving them to achieve policy goals.
• Synthesising R&I results and achievements from clusters of projects.
• Setting-up (a) knowledge hub(s) to support capacity-building on integrated approaches.
• Setting-up rigorous monitoring to follow progress of projects and taking stock of diverse solutions, good practice cases and the contribution to the achievement of the objectives of the partnership and the related policy targets.
• Exploring interfaces with public procurement and investment programmes by developing links with other programmes, private funds, etc. to support take-up and larger-scale implementation of tested approaches and solutions.
Given the global dimension of ocean policy, membership and other modalities of participation from organisations and institutions in non-associated third countries is strongly encouraged, in particular key partners bordering the different EU sea basins. International cooperation should contribute to align strategies and research agendas, strengthen data collection, monitoring and sharing, as well as access to infrastructures, promote good practice for maritime policies, promote the exchange and export of key technologies and gradually open up cooperation with new countries outside of Europe. It should support the EU’s strong commitment to the UN Decade of Ocean Science, the G7 Future of the Seas and Oceans Initiative, the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, the BLUEMED Initiative, the Black Sea Synergy and other international initiatives.
The partnership should cover the Atlantic, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It is expected to include and be open to all relevant public marine/maritime funding organisations and ministries from EU Member States and associated countries as core members, in close cooperation with the private sector, including SMEs and foundations. Appropriate links to other relevant ministries and organisations, including civil society, will be established.
Partners are expected to provide financial and/or in-kind contributions for the governance structure, the joint calls and other dedicated implementation actions and efforts for national coordination. The partnership is expected to mobilise EU, national and regional capacities to leverage investments, including from the private sector, increase up-scalability and market accessibility for the developed solutions and thus increase the return to investments.
To ensure the coherence and complementarity of activities, and to leverage knowledge investment possibilities, the partnership is expected to foster close cooperation and synergies with other relevant proposed European Partnerships, notably “Rescuing biodiversity to safeguard life on Earth”, “Safe and Sustainable Food Systems”, “Water security for the planet (Water4All)”, “Zero-emission waterborne transport”, “Clean Energy Transition” and others where relevant, as well as the EIT Climate KIC and the EIT FOOD. The partnership will also be linked to the relevant objectives of the mission in the area of “Ocean, seas and waters”. Proposers are expected to describe in details the way to implement such collaborations.
Proposals should pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national (or regional) research programmes with a view to implementing joint calls for transnational proposals resulting in grants to third parties. Financial support provided by the participants to third parties is one of the primary activities of this action in order to be able to achieve its objectives. Therefore, the 60 000 EUR threshold provided for in Article 204 (a) of the Financial Regulation No 2018/1046 does not apply. It is expected that the partnership organises joint calls on an annual base and therefore it should consider ample time for the implementation of the co-funded projects. The EU contribution for this action will be implemented in annual instalments of around EUR 20-30 million.
Engaging with managing authorities of European Structural and Investment Funds, as well as others like LIFE, Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA III) and Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), during partnership implementation would help increase the implementation of the project outcomes and support and facilitate further uptake.
The Commission envisages to include new actions in future work programme(s) to continue providing support to the partnership for the duration of Horizon Europe.
The partnership is expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
In line with the objectives of the European Green Deal and Digital Europe priorities, the successful proposal will contribute to the sustainability and resilience of the blue economy by supporting the establishment of innovative governance models. It will also contribute to strengthening the EU and international science-policy interfaces in marine- and maritime-related domains as well as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) by supporting the further deployment and exploitation of Environmental Observation data and products and of digital and data technologies.
• EU and national multi-level cooperation and alignment across and within regional seas of research and innovation programmes, priorities and investments are enhanced, based on established strategic research and innovation agendas and related cooperation activities, including international agreements and outreach; as well as cooperation with other Horizon Europe initiatives, European partnerships and missions.
• Europe’s role in ocean science, research, social and technological developments, innovation and productivity in the marine domain is clearly strengthened by 2030 and transformative governance enables the advances of the role of Europe in business, finance and social developments in the marine/maritime domain.
• By 2030, Europe has contributed significantly and in a measurable way to the climate neutrality of the blue economy, the European Green Deal objectives and its different strategies.
• The science-based implementation of EU marine-related legislation, regulations and objectives is supported, as well as the advanced sustainability of activities, practices and existing and new products and services of the blue economy value chains throughout European regional seas and the Atlantic.
• Transformative change is promoted and enabled through actionable science and sustainable, fair and just solutions for the blue economy and for communities, involving a participatory and multi-stakeholder approach.
• The deployment of digital, nature-based and social innovations as well as community-led and purpose-driven technology for the blue economy is supported.
• Ocean literacy in the EU and beyond is increased.
• Sustained ocean and coastal observations and availability of FAIR data for environmental, climate and blue economy purposes are substantially increased.
• Global cooperation with key partners bordering the different EU sea basins is strengthened.

Link with CMA Goals 

Goal I: Healthy marine and coastal ecosystems
 / Priority 1: Ensure the protection and sustainability of the marine ecosystem

Romania Georgia Bulgaria
Horizon Europe
€150 million (total indicative budget)
Sector of Activity
Blue Economy