Members of the Commission for Natural Resources of the European Committee of the Regions recently met in Gozo. The highlight of the conference was the blue economy. With a turnover of €566 billion, EU’s blue economy generates 1.3 per cent of the total GDP and employs 3.5 million people.

Other topics discussed during the meeting were cross-border cooperation in disaster risk reduction and a new European agenda for the development of maritime industries.

Attended by over 100 delegates, the conference was organised by Victoria mayor Samuel Azzopardi, who is also the president of the Gozo region.

The conference was opened by Ossi Martikainen, chair of the NAT Commission, who spoke on the ‘Sustainable Development of the Blue Economy in Gozo’.

Dr Azzopardi said: “The blue economy is the way forward to reconcile the use of mari-time resources with economic growth and jobs for our communities. We support the CoR’s vision to place the blue economy as an integral part, rather than peripheral, of the EU’s economic policy. Sustainable growth is at the heart of Gozo’s political priorities. The island is already a clean energy net contributor to the Maltese grid and we are well on track to become an eco-island by 2020.”

Malta is among the top five EU member states in which the blue economy most contributes to its GDP (4.7 per cent). The Maltese blue economy employs around 10,400 people and generates €406 million in gross value added. During the conference members adopted various draft opinions, including ‘Cross-border dimension in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)’, ‘A new European agenda to speed up the development of maritime industries’ and ‘Towards a comprehensive European Union framework on endocrine disruptors’. 

The participants also ex­changed views on the progress in the implementation of the EU forest strategy, active and healthy ageing and agropastoralism.


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