EMPLOYERS ‘ORGANIZATIONS MUST PARTICIPATE IN THE FORMATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING OF EUROPEAN AND NATIONAL BLUE ICON POLICIES

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Employers ‘and social partners’ organizations should be involved in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of European and national Blue Economy policies. The importance of building and maintaining a sustainable Blue Economy goes far beyond the narrow understanding associated with coastal zones, as many economic activities depend on and affect the water resources that are connected to the world’s oceans. This was stated by the Vice President of SGI Europe and Secretary General of Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association Dr. Milena Angelova during the two-day European Forum on Blue Economy, organized in Rome with the participation of UN representatives, Commissioner Sinkevicius, businesses and stakeholders.

“The blue economy plays a significant role and has a growing potential to promote economic development by contributing to quality employment and improving people’s well-being. These opportunities should be used to the maximum, while working to minimize the adverse effects on climate, biodiversity and the environment, “said Dr. Angelova.

The EU has foreseen significant European funding to support the sustainable blue economy, including through instruments such as Horizon Europe, the Structural and Investment Funds and the Mechanism for Recovery and Sustainability. According to Dr. Angelova, this funding needs to be easily accessible to operators at national and local level. At the same time, however, it is important to attract private funding for the development of the blue economy, which requires projects that are attractive to private investors. Dr. Milena Angelova called for the promotion of more joint projects between the public sector, businesses and people at the local level.

During the forum, she also said that due to its nature, the blue economy should be considered comprehensively and consistently in policy development. This requires seamless cooperation between politicians at all levels, both vertically and horizontally – between the EU and national governments, between Member States, and between different policy areas such as industry, fisheries, trade, transport, energy, employment and the environment.

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Regional cooperation between Member States and with non-EU countries is particularly important to ensure the security of maritime activities and to protect human and environmental rights against internal and external geopolitical threats, including piracy, environmental crime and cybercrime.

In her speech, Dr. Angelova called on the EU to actively support the development and implementation of digital solutions. Innovation is needed to improve energy and material efficiency and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air, water and waste pollution. Special attention should be paid to supporting small businesses in the green and digital transition.

The blue economy and its potential must be seen in a global context. To this end, international cooperation and common rules are needed to ensure a level playing field and avoid conflicts over marine resources. Dr. Angelova stressed that the EU must strengthen the global implementation of international conventions and agreements in areas such as trade, transport, working conditions, climate and the environment.

“The EU must make every effort to ensure that the conditions for the blue economy in the Union are competitive with those of other countries such as China, and to strengthen the blue economy as a key element of the partnership with Africa. This is necessary for EU companies to be able to export products, technologies and solutions for a sustainable blue economy to international markets and to compete successfully with imports from outside the EU, “she added.

Among the main highlights of her speech was the need for additional training and measures to raise awareness of the importance of the blue economy. She set an example by providing opportunities for healthy eating, mobility and recreation, protection of the marine environment and others.

Dr. Milena Angelova drew attention to key sectors for the blue economy such as maritime transport and ports, fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, shipbuilding and energy. She called on the EU to encourage investment, improve competitiveness conditions and exchange good practices of companies in these sectors.

The blue economy refers to the oceans, seas and coasts, and yet, through cross-border supply chains and common markets and through a shared climate and environment, it predetermines the importance of regional cooperation. It covers a wide range of sectors and operations, and the businesses involved range from large international companies to local SMEs.