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European navigation for the "Maritime issues and strategies" major

Radio 1 listeners get their second hearing aid outside Francere National session of the "Maritime issues and strategies" major.
Stopovers in Brussels, The Hague and Rotterdam

The second trip out of France for students in the 1st National Session of the 'Maritime Issues and Strategies' major took them to Brussels from 28 to 30 March. Between two days of reflection at the heart of the European institutions, an escapade on Tuesday 29th took them to the Netherlands, a maritime Member State of the European Union (EU) par excellence, which has built its prosperity on maritime trade. They were able to discover the major maritime challenges facing the European Union, the policies and strategies implemented to address them, and how France is cooperating with its European allies, particularly in the maritime field, to build a strong and prosperous Europe.   

In the early hours of Monday 28 March, the Permanent Representation of France to the European Union (EUPR) plunged listeners into the European atmosphere in the person of Vice-Admiral Henri SCHRICKE, the French military representative to the European Union and NATO's Military Committee. He emphasised the complementary nature of these two organisations in the military and maritime fields. He stressed the importance of taking into account the defence and security concerns of all Member States and the need to anticipate, drawing inspiration from the very recent "strategic compass", the relevance of which is underlined by the war currently raging in Europe. Finally, he showed how pragmatic and operational approaches far outweighed overly dogmatic positions, using the excellent example of the Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP).

Vice-Admiral SCHRICKE explaining the "Strategic Compass".
Federico Santopinto, campaigner for greater European integration

After fine-tuning their committee work between two lectures, the audience was treated to a particularly rich debate at the end of the morning with Federico SANTOPINTO, researcher at the Groupe de recherche et d'information sur la paix et la sécurité (GRIP) and specialist in European integration in the fields of defence and foreign policy.

The afternoon got off to a flying start with successive speeches by two MEPs. Pierre Karleskind, Chairman of the Fisheries Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Biodiversity and the Intercommittee on the Sea within the European Parliament, began by explaining to the audience the complementary nature of the legitimacies of each of the major European institutions. He emphasised the importance of the concepts of compromise and consensus, which are the pillars of the 'trialogue', the European Union's internal negotiation process. The debates then turned to fisheries and Brexit, and the importance of good water status and governance. He recalled the success of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the importance of combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Pierre Karleskind answers questions from listeners

Stéphane BIJOUX then addressed the challenges facing the EU in the Indo-Pacific region and the key role played by the overseas territories, particularly in the context of China's development of its New Silk Roads strategy. He also showed the extent to which these territories are at the forefront of climate change, particularly in terms of the consequences of rising sea levels and increasingly numerous and powerful climatic events.     

Stéphane BIJOUX underlines the added value of the overseas territories

To round off the day, Théo BARBE and Paul AVRILLIER, the EUPR's fisheries and transport advisers, gave listeners an insight into how the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy has successfully managed these issues, and in particular how the Common Fisheries Policy has enabled certain fish stocks to recover and migrate. All these representatives of France in Brussels are contributing, each at their own level, to improving dialogue and understanding between the national and Community levels, and thus to building a stronger European Union with greater solidarity.

Paul AVRILLIER and Théo BARBE in debate
Paul AVRILLIER and Théo BARBE in debate

At the crack of dawn on Tuesday 29 March, the major set sail for a day below sea level to study the politics of the maritime country par excellence: the Netherlands. Welcomed to The Hague by H.E. Mr Luis VASSY, the French Ambassador to the Netherlands, and his principal advisers, the auditors were able to appreciate the strong and often little-known bilateral relations between France and the Netherlands.

Presentation of the IHEDN badge to H.E. Mr Luis VASSY

Although in the past these relations were mainly economic, they are now rapidly strengthening in the fields of defence and security. The two countries share common interests and approaches, and have excellent military forces capable of conducting high-intensity operations together. The two round-table discussions organised by the embassy gave rise to rich debates on Dutch maritime policy and its security challenges with Mr Lodewiik ABSPOEL from the Ministry of Infrastructure, Mrs Jean-Marie STAM from the Rijkwaterstaat, Mr Samy OUAHSINE from the economic mission and colonel Christian BACHMANN, defence attaché.     

Round table on maritime policy
Round table on port security

Listeners were able to discover the many points of convergence between the two countries. But above all they discovered a very strong culture of negotiation, compromise and consensus, symbolised by the traditional "polder model", which the French could learn from more often.

The long day ended with the long-awaited visit to the port of Rotterdam, Europe's leading port. As usual, Mr Frans VAN KEULEN, representative of the Rotterdam Port Authority Board and a great friend of the IHEDN, gave the audience a particularly warm and professional welcome. With an impressive breadth of vision and a perfect knowledge of the maritime world, he presented the challenges faced by the Port of Rotterdam and the development of this impressive hub, which alone accounts for more than 6 % of the country's GDP.

Mathilde Bessac-Desserteaux, the major's supervisor at the helm of the Nieuwe maze, is very attentive to the captain's instructions.

The auditors were then invited to take to the sea on board the Nieuwe Maze to sail as close as possible to the impressive facilities that are the strength of this port, guaranteeing the loading and unloading of 34,000 ships every year. After this highlight of the mission, the auditors returned to Brussels in the evening for a well-deserved rest.  

The third day of the mission provided an opportunity to delve deeper into several strategic areas of the European Union's Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP).

A first round table on permanent structured cooperation (PSC) brought together Arnaud MIGOUX from the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Engineer General of Armaments Yves CALÉCA and François DUPONT from the Naval Group. While acknowledging the excessive fragmentation of the defence industry in Europe and the difficulties associated with the length of the tendering process, they highlighted the significant progress made in recent years in the area of capabilities, notably with the European Defence Fund (EDF).

Round table on permanent structured cooperation
Round table on the EU maritime security strategy and action plan

The second round table on the EU Maritime Security Strategy (EUMS) and its action plan brought together Giovanni CREMONINI from the EEAS, Christos THEOPHILOU from DG Mare and Vice-Admiral (2s) Jean-Marie LHUISSIER, specialist EU consultant. The discussions highlighted the global nature of the growing risks and threats in the maritime sector (piracy, illegal fishing, etc.) and the need for the EU to have a maritime security policy that includes areas as far-flung as the Indo-Pacific. To achieve this, Member States need to take joint action inspired by the strategic compass. This requires an increase in the Common Maritime Presence (CMP) based on improved information sharing, of which the CISE (Common Information Sharing Environment) project should be the keystone.

Félix LEINEMANN, from DG MARE and a great friend of the IHEDN, opened the afternoon with a presentation of the EU's new approach to a sustainable blue economy. In particular, he stressed the need for spatial planning of maritime areas to ensure the harmonious cohabitation of an increasing number of sea users, especially since the exploitation of renewable marine energies. 

Felix LEINEMANN on spatial planning for maritime areas

Éric MAURICE, head of the Brussels office of the Robert Schuman Foundation, then led a debate on the distribution of political parties within the European Parliament and the place, involvement and role of the French within the various EU institutions. 

Éric MAURICE explaining the place of the French within the European institutions

Finally, Geneviève PONS, Director General for Europe at the Institut Europe Jacques Delors, brought the seminar to a close with a flourish by presenting the Starfish 2030 mission to maintain, protect and restore aquatic environments. She mentioned the three components - scientific, economic and external action - of the implementation plan validated by the European Commission. The ambitious objective, which involves all citizens, is to build an exemplary Europe, leading the way towards a zero-pollution, low-carbon blue economy. One of the first steps is the creation of a digital twin in which the French company Mercator Oceans is at the forefront.

Geneviève PONS explaining the Starfish 2030 project