Charting a course for European Marine Science, Technology and Innovation

Navigating the Future IV cover On the 20th June, the European Marine Board presented its blueprint, Navigating the Future-IV, for the next phase of seas and oceans research in Europe, to EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP and European Parliament Rapporteur for the Horizon 2020 Programme at a special event in the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts in Brussels. 

Navigating the Future-IV is an opinion paper representing the views of the European Marine Science Community of the major challenges and opportunities for marine science in Europe to support Blue Growth prepared by the European Marine Board, a network of 36 European Marine Research Centres from 20 countries. The Current 4th Report is structured to inform the research challenges identified by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme in terms of basic research (Excellent Science) such as understanding ecosystem functioning, as well as the major societal challenges facing Europe over the next decade including health, food security, energy; climate change and raw materials.

Presenting Navigating the Future-IV to Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn and MEP Carvalho, Dr Kostas Nittis, European Marine Board Chair, recalled the Ostend Declaration (2010) which called for marine sciences to be recognised as one of grand challenges of the 21st century. He noted that the recent EU Blue Growth Strategy (2012) represented the marine component of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and he acknowledged the support given to marine science, technology and innovation in the EU’s 7th Framework Programme (2007-2013) including the Ocean of Tomorrow initiative.

 Welcoming the report, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn acknowledged its relevance and timeliness as the Commission and the Member States were now about to embark on defining the specific topics that would be open to competitive co-funded research under the €80 billion Horizon 2020 Programme spanning the period 2014-2020. Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn also welcomed the inclusion of chapters on the need for a European Ocean Observing System and for improvements in Ocean Literacy amongst European citizens. She noted that these two topics were also addressed at the recent Irish EU-Presidency Meeting “The Atlantic – A Shared Resource” held in Galway from the 23rd to the 24th of May. This meeting resulted in the signing of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Research Cooperation by Canada, the USA and the European Union, which represents the first step in internationalising the recently adopted Atlantic Strategy Action Plan.  

Maria da Graça Carvalho, Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur for the EU Horizon 2020 Programme highlighted the vital role that the marine sector plays in the blue economy which she said is “central to Europe´s prosperity and well‐being". She noted the progress the European Union had made in recent years in recognising that the Union had a very important marine dimension, now formally recognised in the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (2007) and its various sea-basin strategies. She reported that the Parliament was aware of the importance of the Union’s maritime interests and had recommended that marine science and blue growth be recognised as one of a number of priority cross-cutting themes to be addressed by the Horizon 2020 Programme.  

Geoffrey O’Sullivan, representing the Marine Institute, and a member of the European Marine Board, noted that the priories identified in Navigating the Future-IV complemented those in the Irish Marine Plan Harnessing our Ocean Wealth launched by the Irish Government in July 2012. While according to Ciara Delaney, Irish Maritime Attaché in Brussels, Navigating the Future-IV reinforced the research priorities included in the recent European Union Atlantic Action Plan (2014-2020), agreed by France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the UK, which was launched in Galway on 24th of May by EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki.

The Brussels Event also launched EurOCEAN 2014 Conference, as an Italian-EU Presidency conference with a focus on marine science grand challenges. EurOCEAN 2014 will be held in Rome on 7‐9 October 2014. Announcing the EurOCEAN 2014 Conference, Prof. Enrico Brugnoli, of the National Research Council in Italy (CNR) said that “the EurOCEAN Conference is one of the most important events in marine and maritime research for both scientists and policy makers”. The EurOCEAN 2014 Conference will be the 8th in a very successful series of European Marine Science Conferences, initiated in Brussels in 1994, and including the EurOCEAN 2004 Conference held in Galway and formative Galway Declaration   Copies of Navigating the Future-IV can be downloaded from the European Marine Board website,       


The European Marine Board ( The European Marine Board (established in 1995) provides a platform of its member organisations (36 Marine Institutes from 20 countries) to identify common priorities, to bridge the gaps between science and policy and to advance marine science and its contribution to society, in order to meet future marine science challenges and opportunities ( The Marine Institute and an Irish Universities Consortium (UCC and NUI-Galway) are members of the Marine Board. Recent Marine Board publications include:

Linking Oceans and Human Health: A Strategic Research Priority for Europe (IN PRESS)
Achieving Ecologically Coherent MPA Networks in Europe: Science Needs and Priorities (April 2013)
Marine Biodiversity: A Science Roadmap for Europe (September 2012)
Marine Microbial Diversity and its role in Ecosystem Functioning and Environmental Change (May 2012).