“You can’t have an economy if you don’t have a community”, says Jerry Lundy (IE/Fianna Fáil), who reviews the European Commissions’ Atlantic Strategy in the European Committee of the Regions.
The Atlantic strategy and its action plan identify the main areas for development for the blue economy – the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved lives and jobs while preserving the health of the marine and coastal ecosystem in the Atlantic member states: the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.
“We’re looking at cooperation between the five Atlantic states in terms of jobs creation, tourism, fisheries, sustainable energy and most of all funding. At this moment there is no dedicated funding for the plan but we can use funds from other measures – local communities should be able to make use of all EU funds including the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund” Lundy supports the creation of sustainable jobs and communities along the coastline of the Atlantic region.
“You can’t have an economy if you don’t have a community”
Currently, communities along the coastline or on islands in the Atlantic are starting to drift towards major centres and cities. “The skills, heritage and folklore will be lost. You would have no young people in these regions anymore if we don’t have a plan that will keep them there. Training, skills and access are therefore important, as well as good roads but also broadband – a lot of companies that would set up business along the coastline need to get their products to the market and need good connectivity. If we fulfill these conditions I’m confident we can create more jobs in the region”.
There is also a tourism and energy angle to this story. The wild Atlantic way in Ireland, the world’s longest defined coastal touring route has on top of its scenery lots of wind, wave and sun power to offer. “Instead of looking down as we did in the past for energy for coal, gas and oil, let’s look up for wind, sun and waves producing sustainable and clean energy”.
With the ongoing Brexit negotiations it is also the perfect timing for the future remaining EU Atlantic Member States to prioritise closer cooperation and integration in different domains to overcome the gap that the loss of the UK will entail. The potential consequences for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the UK exit especially in access to UK waters with a particular impact on the fishing sectors of neighbouring countries are in that regard particularly alarming.”It could lead to reduced catches with a consequent reduction in employment in an already fragile sector on top of distorted competition with quotas, discard bans, maximum days at sea, state aid rules for the sector and the maintenance of biodiversity”.
Read the full opinion here.