Baltic Cooperation in Marine Spatial Planning
Marine spatial planning is a relatively new area of cooperation in the Baltic Sea region — a site of long-term joint efforts towards environmental protection and sustainable development. At the beginning of the 21st century, the integrated management of coastal zones and marine spatial planning emerged as a new area of international cooperation. Despite intensive theoretical work on the mentioned concepts, the development of a harmonised spatial planning in the Baltic Sea region is complicated by the complex nature of the problem, a relatively intensive exploitation of marine resources, diverse interests of the stakeholders, and differences in national institutional systems. We describe the key stages of the process, which is regulated by the EU standards on the one hand and affected by the activity of such organisations as VASAB and HELCOM, on the other. In this article, we examine basic documents defining the principles and scope of marine planning and analyse recent research works into spatial development. We conclude that marine spatial planning is a principal tool of the EU’s integrated policy. Many European countries of the Baltic region are seeking cooperation with Russia to preserve the natural and economic environment of the Baltic Sea. Most joint spatial planning projects have been initiated by Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Poland.