The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) builds on all the existing legal instruments for the protection of the marine environment and the sustainable development of maritime sectors, integrating their objectives into a coherent framework that contributes the achievement of the objectives of wider EU policies for environmental protection and sustainability, such as the EU Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy 2030.

Moreover, the MSFD is a key instrument for the fulfilment of the EU obligations in the context of the four Regional Sea Conventions (HELCOM, OSPAR, UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention, and Bucharest Convention). This includes the joint preparation of marine environmental assessments together with non-EU states whose marine waters fall within the same marine region or subregion, helping to ensure that the MSFD assessments are coherent and coordinated.

Finally, the MSFD contributes to the achievement of the objectives of marine environmental protection set at global level, such as the Sustainable Development Goal 14 and the targets set by the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The MSFD builds on existing Directives and Regulation, developed in the course of the last decades, and extends the protection of the marine environment to include other spatial areas and ecosystems (e.g. Member States’ territorial waters), or pressures and impacts not previously addressed (e.g. underwater noise and marine litter). Simultaneously, the MSFD contributes to achieving the policy targets and objectives set in key environmental policies at EU level.

EU policy initiatives

The global and regional commitments