Study on the economic effects of maritime spatial planning
‘Maritime Spatial Planning is a tool for improved decision-making. It provides a framework for arbitrating between competing human activities and managing their impact on the marine environment. Its objective is to balance sectoral interests and achieve sustainable use of marine resources in line with the EU Sustainable Development Strategy’. The text above is taken from the Roadmap of Maritime Spatial Planning, published by the European Commission in November 2008. This roadmap was a first formal step on Maritime Spatial Planning taken by the European Commission and is part of the larger... policy objectives incorporated in the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union. Policy actions, such as the initiative on Maritime Spatial Planning, aim to create a framework for society to operate in such a way that unwanted effects are minimised and desired effects are maximised. In the case of Maritime Spatial Planning, the European Commission aims to support its Member States with a tool that enables their maritime economies to grow sustainably. This implies minimum conflicts between economic activities AND other economic or human activities, whilst a good environmental status of the marine areas is realised. The question to be answered in this study is whether Maritime Spatial Planning leads to these desired effects. More specifically, it aims to find out whether and on which scale economic effects for maritime stakeholders in the European Union will occur due to Maritime Spatial Planning. In order to answer this question, Maritime Spatial Planning has first been conceptualised, addressing items such as the input and process needed to achieve Maritime Spatial Planning as well as the effects likely to result. It was found that if the process is managed properly the economic effects are fourfold : (1) enhanced coordination and simplified decision processes, (2) enhanced legal certainty for all stakeholders in the maritime arena, (3) enhanced cross border cooperation and (4) enhanced coherence with other planning systems. Furthermore, several additional non-economic effects are likely to result from MSP, such as support for management in realising a good environmental status in the coasts and seas1. The economic effects were subsequently studied in relation to dominant economic paradigms. This resulted in a clear and non-ambiguous set of three main economic effects of Maritime Spatial Planning. Firstly, coordination efficiency for governments is likely to result due to improved and integrated decision making. Secondly, proper Maritime Spatial Planning leads to reduced transaction costs for maritime activities (economic terminology for search, legal, administrative and opportunity costs) operating in the maritime arena. Thirdly, societies benefit from the enhanced certainty resulting in an improved investment climate.