The policy for the North Sea points the way in which the government envisages the development of the North Sea. So it provides the limits for the use and management of the area. But the policy development itself also has to do with national and international frameworks that both point in a certain direction and determine the amount of leeway available. Roughly speaking, these frameworks can be divided into clusters: integrated, international, legal, spatial and administrative. Read more about the formulation of the North Sea policy in chapter 1 of the North Sea Programme 2022-2027.
The Dutch North Sea policy is integrated. That is to say, it is not specifically focused on targets or interests; it is primarily about cohesiveness. The vision of an ecologically robust sea that is used in a sustainable way form the preconditions for this.
International commitments, coordination and cooperation
International formal and legal obligations, treaties and agreements together form a strong guiding framework for the national North Sea policy. A number of different levels can be distinguished here: world-wide, regional (North-East Atlantic region), European, the level of North Sea countries and bilateral. There is a trend towards a different emphasis - certainly at North-Sea level - from obligation to cooperation.
Acts and other legislation
The legal framing covers all agreements and treaties that have been made mandatory and are also enforced. These are generally European directives that are transposed into national legislation. In addition, there is also national legislation in force, such as the Mining Act and the Earth Removal Act.
Over the past few decades, attention has zoomed in on a spatial vision for sustainable and strategic use of marine waters at world-wide, European and North-Sea level. The Netherlands, the manager of one of the most intensively-used maritime areas in the world, is actively contributing to the development of maritime spatial planning in the context of the North Sea.
Precisely because so many, often contradictory, interests come together in the North-Sea area and because so many parties and sectors are involved, it is essential to have proper administrative framing of the integrated North-Sea policy.