Final Minutes

Final Minutes

Directorate D - Water, Chemicals & Cohesion
ENV.D.2 - Water and Marine /
Working Group on Data, Information and Knowledge Exchange
of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Common Implementation Strategy
17 June 2009 from 09:30 to 17:15
in CCAB(Borschette) Brussels, Room AB/0.D

Final Minutes

Following the establishment of the EU-level working structure in relation to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Commission, DG Environment D.2. (hereafter referred to as COM) invited Member States nominees and stakeholder representatives to the first meeting of the Working Group on Data, Information and Knowledge Exchange (WG DIKE) in Brussels on 17June 2009.

The following Member States (MS) participated in the meeting: Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Malta, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In addition, Norway was also represented at the Meeting by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority.

The Regional Sea Conventions HELCOM, OSPAR, UNEP/ MAP and the Black Sea Commission were present as well as several stakeholder organisations including OGP, Europêche, EurOcean.

In addition, representatives of the European Environment Agency (EEA), its Topic Centre on Water and the Commission (DG ENV, DG MARE and DG ENTR) were present. A full list of meeting participants is provided in Annex 1.

All meeting documents and presentations are available from CIRCA at:

1.Opening of the meeting and adoption of the Agenda

The Chairman (Gert Verreet, COM) welcomed participants to the meeting.

The participants briefly introduced themselves.

The Chairman recalled the main objectives of the meeting: (1) to provide an overview of all relevant current developments that will affect the organisation of the data and information infrastructure underpinning information exchange for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC at EU-level; (2) to make further working arrangements in the MSFD CIS Work Plan 2009-2010 for the work items attributed to this Working Group.

A draft agenda (Document WG Data and information 09 1/1; see Annex 2) was distributed before the meeting, which the meeting agreed as a basis for its discussions.

2.Review of the draft Terms of Reference for the Group, clarification of associated actions

COM introduced a short overview paper (WG Data, Information June 09 2/3) setting out the strategic importance of a sufficient "knowledge base" for implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and that the information needs will be different for the different actors involved in its implementation. The document advocated the use of this Working Group to (a) articulate what information is being generated (& might usefully be shared) and to (b) address gaps commonly identified. An important role could in future be played in this respect by the activities under the EU's marine and maritime research strategy, including activities for a better organised science-policy interface and better dissemination of relevant recent research findings.

COM had prepared draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for this Working Group (Document WG Data and Information June 09 2/1)taking account of:

similar ToR for working groups under the Water Framework Directive Common Implementation Strategy;

reflecting the Marine Strategy Coordination Group discussions on 15 May 2009.

The meeting of Water Directors on 29 May had decided to come back to these for adoption, as they wished the Working Group to review them first.

The following issues were addressed:

-The NL representative brought up the question of data and information on 'pressures' on the marine environment, i.e. beyond information on marine environmental status per se. This delegation also pointed to the need for expertise on information content as well as expertise on data and information systems design and management. COM confirmed that the WG should indeed take a broad view of work related to data, information and knowledge necessary for MSFD purposes, and should cover both types of competences.

-The DE representative stressed the need to include information on nature conservation aspects, and to make a clear distinction, in the description of reporting requirements, between those related to state of the environment (SoE) and those related to compliance with the MSFD, which were relatively separate from each other, at least until data are reported that could be used to assess attainment of the MSFD objective (GES by 2020). It was noted that MSFD Art. 19(3) required Member States to make available data derived from MS Art. 11 monitoring programmes and Art. 8 assessments.

-The UK representation stressed the need for allocation of resources in a cost-effective way. This delegation, supported by the FR delegation which also asked for clarification on the follow-up of the earlier 'EMMA' (European Marine Monitoring and Assessment) group, requested discussion of the elaboration of indicators at EU-level (see Agenda Item 4).

-On the basis of an initial clarification, the following part was amended as shown:

'Furthermore, indicatorwork under the informal 'European Marine Monitoring and Assessment' (EMMA) working group in the period 2005-2008 has already:

(a) (…);

(b) (…). Therefore, whilst a small part of the current 'EMMA' work on indicators has progressed over 2008-2009 and needs completion, the majority of it will only be taken up again when the WG GES has progressed further.

-Incorrect subheadings needed correction.

-COM indicated that it would be appropriate to include in these ToR the following item which had also been added to the ToR of the other working group (on Good Environmental Status):

"Documents and minutes

Participants can submit written documents for the consideration of the group, e.g. comments on draft products.

The European Commission will prepare draft minutes of the meetings for consideration by the group."

After the discussion, COM indicated it would prepare amendments to the draft ToR accordingly for the consideration of the November 2009 Marine Directors meeting, and that meanwhile work would continue in the WG on the basis of these draft ToR.

The Working Group noted the current version of the EU-level work plan 2009-2010 (WG Data and Information June 09 2/2) and agreed to elaborate further specifications for the actions in its own remit (Section 3) which will be annexed to the draft Minutes of the meeting.

3.Current EU-level initiaties in the field of Marine Data, Information and Knowledge Exchange

Under this agenda item, the Working Group was given presentations by COM representatives on:

Common Fisheries Policy: Data Collection Regulation

Antonio Cervantes Bolanos (DG MARE) presented the new Data Collection Legal Framework (DCF, Decision 2008/949/EC where Annex XIII contains a list of indicators including ecosystems approach to fisheries management) and the possible contribution to the objectives of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. He recalled the recent developments of the data collection underpinning some mechanisms of the Common Fisheries Policy, which indicators had been chosen as a contribution to working towards an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management, what data these required and how the data would be managed.

A representative of Europêche expressed dismay with this selective focus on fisheries, and indicated that many other sectors had an impact on the environment, but that the data systems concerning them were far less integrated. The Chairman explained that the Marine Strategy Framework Directive required a comprehensive assessment and attention for all relevant pressures from human activities, including from fisheries. In earlier discussion with Member States on marine data collection and indicators, all parties involved had agreed that, where data systems existed that would generate data useful for the implementation of the MSFD, duplication of efforts on data collection should be avoided. The DCF was presented here for this purpose only, so that MS experts on data, information and knowledge requirements of the MSFD were also fully aware of the DCF.

European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNET)

The meeting had received the April 2009 EMODNET 'roadmap' (WG Data and Information June 09 3/2). In addition, Iain Shepherd (DG MARE) presented the EMODNET rationale (with the objectives: a-to reduce operational costs, 2-to increase competition, 3-to reduce uncertainty) and the main results of the recently held public consultation, which provided a firm endorsement of the EMODNET eight design principles 1-colect once – use many, 2-develop interoperable standards, 3-focus on sea regions, 4-requires sustainable funding at EU level, 5-to be built on existing structures, 6-user driven, 7-clarify ownership, accuracy, precision, 8-freedom of data use for publicly funded data). The European Commission was currently preparing the EMODNET action plan on the basis of a full impact assessment, aiming for its publication by February 2010. A number of preparatory action projects had recently started. The EMODNET focus on data assembly at regional scale was expected to be of great benefit to the MSFD implementation and its information architecture under WISE-Marine, where MS cooperation at (sub-)regional level would play a pivotal role.

Global monitoring for environment and security (GMES)

Mikko Strahlendorff (DG ENTR, GMES Bureau) presented the GMES initiative (see presentation), focusing on the overall set-up, the different generations of satellites with their capabilities, and some of the products currently available under the MyOcean project that is shaping the GMES Marine Services.

European Atlas of the Sea (MARATLAS)

On behalf of Anne-France Woestyn (DG MARE), Iain Shepherd explained the current position (see presentation) on the development of the EU Atlas of the Sea which was part of the maritime policy Action Plan, as a tool to support awareness raising for the maritime world and containing some key facts and figures on the European seas and the maritime sectors depending on them.

INSPIRE Directive

Due to a simultaneous INSPIRE conference in Rotterdam, no colleagues from the Commission were available to discuss INSPIRE on 17 June. Colleague Hugo De Groof (DG ENV) had however provided the extensive document (WG Data and Information 3/1) which explained the current status of implementation of the INSPIRE Directive and how it could help establishing common rules and practices for handling geo-referenced data sets in relation to the MSFD. The document concluded with a set of six recommendations, the first three of which were mainly addressed to the Member States (1: document data in accordance with INSPIRE Regulation on Metadata; 2: implement INSPIRE network services (discovery, view, download) according to the relevant INSPIRE Regulation; 3: identify relevant data sets and communicate those to the INSPIRE national point of contact for including in Annex I, II and III lists). The fourth recommendation, that the WG could assess or help implementing the measures related to the 'sharing' obligation, could be taken up in the development of WISE-Marine. As regards the fifth recommendation, that MSFD stakeholders could participate in the development of the INSPIRE IR Interoperability of spatial data sets and services for the Annex II/III through the establishment of an MSFD Spatial Data Interest Community (SDIC) would ensure that the data specifications meet MS requirements for such information under their establishment of marine strategies for the MSFD. A similar approach had been successfully used by the WFD community in dealing with the 'hydrography' data theme of INSPIRE Annex I.

In discussing these proposals:

-Delegations generally supported the recommendations, stressing that MS activity to implement INSPIRE could directly benefit the management of a set of important data sets which would be needed under MSFD implementation.

-It was indicated that, as under the WFD were a number of pilot projects had been established to develop the Water Information System for Europe (WISE) as a distributed-node system, the use of the INSPIRE implementation rules would advance the establishment of the WISE-Marine system.

-National agencies responsible for data themes under the MSFD should liaise with national agencies responsible for the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive in order to ensure the follow-up of recommendations 1-3.

-The Working Group agreed it should take recommendations 5 and 6 onto the agenda of the next meeting with a view to taking concrete action on them.

The Water Information System for Europe (WISE) for the marine environment (WISE-Marine) in relation to the MSFD requirements

The Commission document on WISE-Marine (WG Data and Information June 09 3/5) summarised the main elements and timeframe of MS 'marine strategies' which indicated a number of aspects that should be taken into account for the elaboration of WISE-Marine. In response to the set of issues identified for WG DIKE:

-A NL representative indicated that it would be useful to know how much time MS would require for the finalisation of each of their marine strategy elements at national level and after having cooperated in the (sub-)regional context. Knowing such deadlines would be helpful to clarify the (sub-)regional 'windows of opportunity'. (For example, in the draft MSFD roadmap under elaboration in the OSPAR Commission, it was generally assumed that regional action should deliver its contribution at the latest 1 year before the MS deadline in the MSFD.)

-There was an expression of interest from MS to consider this WG as the place where COM discusses how it will proceed with its Art. 12 and 16 assessments and 'compliance checking' generally.

-COM requested the WG to consider whether a specific term should be established to denote the part of MS waters that form the geographic scope of a single of its marine strategies.

-Whereas the objectives of EMODNET were centred around the assembly of coherent data sets, the focus of WISE-Marine was more on the processing of data into information in the light of the MSFD requirements (indicators).

4.Continuation of Convergence of European and Regional marine environmental Indicator development to support the wider MSFD Marine Assessments

The EEA project manager for marine assessments, Eva Royo Gelabert gave a presentation on the developments, under the previous European Marine Monitoring and Assessment (EMMA) group, towards EU-level indicators based on a process of comparison, and, where appropriate, convergence. She explained that the EEA mandate to provide State of the Environment assessment was based, to an important degree, on regularly updated indicators. When work under the Marine Strategy expanded, and even more now that the MSFD is in force, it had become clear that there were too few good quality marine environmental indicators available at EU level to fulfil the EEA's mandate in relation to the wider marine assessments in the MSFD (e.g. Article 20).It was very often difficult to upscale thematic information across all European marine regions (the geographical scale used for EEA marine assessments) due to the existing differences. A process of EEA and regional indicator comparison and the elaboration of proposals towards further convergence was seen as an important step to ensure that assessment information could be put together in a compatible and coherent way in order to communicate it to the European public. This includedattention for the presentation of information that would do justice also to the equivalent presentation at e.g. regional scale and that would show Member States’ efforts to improve the marine environment under the best conditions. The presentation summarised the process and results so far, and made proposals for appropriate continuation, partly over 2010 and mostly from 2011 to 2013.

Several Member States intervened to question the necessity of this work and the proposed timing. Several referred to the 'good environmental status' (GES) work as the main driver for further indicator development. Some expressed concern that a top-down streamlining (from indicator back to the underlying monitoring) was unachievable, and would even be detrimental. Some stated that MS need to retain the main responsibility for selecting their indicators (MSFD Art. 10), and that a EU-level process at this stage would detract from their resources needed for their national and regional developments. There were some misunderstandings regarding the content of the work proposed, but the main thrust from those who spoke seem to be to postpone this activity as a whole until the GES work had delivered.

The Chairman indicated that communication at EU-level on the state of the marine environment (in a broad sense, including on the pressures on it etc.) to the European public required also that suitable ways (conveniently called 'indicators') should be found to present a picture of the health status of the seas in relation to MS marine strategies. It is a working assumption that indicators capturing key information from regular monitoring, data reporting and assessment work will be necessary to bring WISE-Marine alive for a broad public, in particular in relation to the SoE data necessary for the EEA to fulfil its task (Article19.3). Such indicators should, to the extent possible, present an equitable presentation of information for the different regions and MS. In the view of the Commission, such work should maintain some continuitywith the earlier EMMA work, gradually and selectively moving forward on the basis of opportunities taking into account developments at regional level.