2020 is a key year for the EU in terms of meeting conservation objectives under the 2011 biodiversity strategy, the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy) and the MSFD (Marine Strategy Framework Directive). 2021 should see the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity.

This report provides analysis of the results to date on the protection of marine biodiversity. It assessed the EU policy and spending framework and how it addressed the main pressures on marine biodiversity and habitats, focusing on pressure from commercial fishing. It examined whether: 1) the EU framework was well designed and applied by the Commission and Member States, 2) progress had been made in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and 3) the Commission and Member States achieved results from using EU funds.

It was found that overall, while a framework was in place to protect the marine environment, the EU’s actions had not restored seas to good environmental status, nor fishing to sustainable levels in all seas. It is highlighted that a high proportion of marine species and habitats’ assessments continue to show an “unfavourable conservation status” or a status that is “unknown”. While it was found that EU action had resulted in measurable progress in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean remained significantly overfished; and only a small share of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund was used to support marine conservation.


European Court of Auditors (2020) Special Report. Marine environment: EU protection is wide but not deep. Publication Office of the European Union.