Ecosystem-based marine management in European regional seas calls for nested governance structures and coordination—A policy brief

J. Raakjaer, J. van Leeuwen, J. van Tatenhove, M. Hadjimichael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Marine governance in European seas is at a crossroad aiming towards implementation of eco-system based marine management (EBMM) through integration of different EU policies or directives to protect the environment, while at the same time expected to facilitate growth and employment in support of the blue economy. This article shows that the governance landscape at the regional sea level is very complex, fragmented and faced with several dilemmas. It examines the present governance structures in the four European seas (Baltic, Black, and Mediterranean Seas and North East Atlantic Ocean). It is argued that the implementation of EBMM at the regional sea level is characterized by a highly fragmented European governance system where there is lack of coordination between relevant DGs within the European Commission, between EU, International organisations, Regional Sea Conventions and the Member States and between sectoral governance arrangements that should provide sectoral management measures that support EBMM. The article develops suggestions for a nested governance system in which institutions, policies, laws and sectors are nested into a tiered, internally consistent and mutually re-enforcing planning and decision-making system. Developing institutional interaction and soft modes of governance between the EU, the Regional Sea Conventions, Member States and the governance arrangements of the different marine sectors will be crucial in evolving towards such a nested governance system for EBMM. Moreover, there is no one size fits all approach in implementing EBMM, which means that for each European Sea a context-dependent nested governance system should be developed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-381
JournalMarine Policy
Issue numberpart B
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • baltic sea
  • multilevel governance
  • framework
  • institutions
  • atlantic
  • politics
  • lessons
  • impact

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