Maritime Spatial Planning projects (EMFAF-2023-PIA-MSP)


The objective of this call for proposals is to facilitate the implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the EU, including through the effective application of Directive 2014/89 establishing a framework for MSP. This call is intended to fund projects developing innovative responses to tackle specific challenges that EU Members States might encounter when putting into effect, monitoring and/or revising their maritime spatial plans. 

Many of these challenges are common to coastal Member States. Therefore, there is a shared interest in developing innovative responses that can apply within a sea basin and/or across sea basins. This means that projects should bring together participants from different Member States, located in a sea basin, or from different sea basins. To meet these challenges Member States will have to:

  • Reflect and align their maritime spatial plans to the ambition of the European Green Deal and the related initiatives in areas such as climate change mitigation and/or adaptation, biodiversity, food, mobility, energy transition, alongside established activities and interests. As a cross-cutting instrument with a legal basis in all these policy areas, MSP can act as a powerful enabler of the EU's "Green Deal". This means that it will be therefore necessary for Member States to reflect in their maritime spatial plans the ambition of the Green Deal’s objectives, and energy and climate plans, alongside established activities and interests.

  • Cater for cumulative impacts of ocean stressors: promote the use of an ecosystem-based approach, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), strengthen the process of the Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs), which are an integral part of MSP and promote environmental monitoring to collect data and asses impacts (e.g. on offshore renewable energies).

  • Reinforce the sea basin dimension of MSP: meeting the above-mentioned challenges, and integrating the new EU initiatives, will require greater cooperation in planning activities in the different sea basins. A good example of this is the North Sea, where coastal Member States have set up structures to strengthen the coordination when deploying offshore wind energy14 . Moving from a project approach, MSP should become a subject of discussion among Member States in sea basin governance bodies.

  • Making MSP digital and pan-European: The aim of this "digitalisation" is to harmonise data and to disseminate the contents of these plans through a common or shared digital platform – the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet). This sharing of data will facilitate cross-border consultation and cooperation and allow for a greater participation of stakeholders in the establishment and implementation of maritime spatial plans


Proposals are expected to develop innovative responses to tackle the above mentioned specific challenges that EU Members States might encounter in the implementation and/or revision of their maritime spatial plans.

Hereunder is a list of priorities related to the aforementioned challenges:

  1. MSP as an enabler of the European Green Deal. Developing strategies and approaches to review/revise maritime spatial plans to make them future proof, more integrated and more coherent, especially in a sea basin context. Contributing to the development or review of the MSPs, taking into account circular blue economy and nature-food-energy nexus, coherently in a seabasin context. Climate proofing of MSP, including incorporating climate adaptation and mitigation actions and/or strategies.

  2. Facilitate/enable the development of marine protected areas and economic sectors (e.g. tourism and maritime/underwater cultural heritage, offshore energy, fisheries, aquaculture) in the maritime domain: ex-ante assessments (Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment) and environmental monitoring; multi-use in project design and licensing/permits; development of a regulatory framework for multi-use, including Land Sea Interactions (LSI); allocation of sufficient sea space, enabling synergies with other sectors / activities.

  3. Applying an 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 and cumulative pressures and ensuring that marine ecosystems are in a healthy, productive and resilient condition.

  4. Analysing how maritime spatial plans identified and addressed existing and potential tensions between different sectors. For example analysing the socio[1]economic implications of the offshore energy development and marine protected areas on recreation and tourism activities, boating, indigenous life, aquaculture and on fishing. Developing strategies on how to address those interactions, social and economic implications, increase the social acceptance and ensure perceived fairness in the MSP process.

Applicants should identify one among the above priorities, or address a combination thereof, and build their proposal around it.

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 in 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 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, including the review and/or revisions 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 CINEA 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 CINEA 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.

Expected Impact:

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:

  • 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, including in coordination with the European MSP platform;

  • Produce two "policy briefs", one at mid-term and one at the end of the project, that summarise the main results of the project and their relevance for the implementation of the MSP Directive. These documents should 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 impacts in relation to the targeted "Priorities".

27 February 2024 17:00:00 Brussels Time
European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF)
EUR 4000000
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Sector of Activity
Automation Blue Economy Maritime industry Maritime Technologies Maritime Transport
Opportunities Status