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Collective action and agency in Baltic Sea marine spatial planning: Transnational policy coordination in the promotion of regional coherence

Journal article
Authors B. Hassler
K. Gee
M. Gilek
A. Luttmann
Andrea Morf
F. Saunders
I. Stalmokaite
Helena Strand
J. Zaucha
Published in Marine Policy
Volume 92
Pages 138-147
ISSN 0308-597X
Publication year 2018
Published at University Administration
Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment
School of Global Studies, Human Ecology
Pages 138-147
Language en
Keywords Baltic Sea, Ecosystem approach, Marine spatial planning, Policy integration, Social science, Stakeholder participation, Sustainable development
Subject categories Research on Europe, Public Administration Studies, Human Geography, Water in nature and society, Comprehensive planning, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


Despite the increasing attention given to marine spatial planning and the widely acknowledged need for transnational policy coordination, regional coherence has not yet improved a great deal in the Baltic Sea region. Therefore, the main objectives in this article are: (a) to map existing governance structures at all levels that influence how domestic marine spatial planning policy strategies are formed, (b) to identify specific challenges to improved regional cooperation and coordination, and (c) to discuss possible remedies. Based on data from in-depth case studies carried out in the BONUS BALTSPACE research project, it is shown that, despite the shared goal of sustainability and efficient resource use in relevant EU Directives, action plans and other policy instruments, domestic plans are emerging in diverse ways, mainly reflecting varying domestic administrative structures, sectoral interests, political prioritisations, and handling of potentially conflicting policy objectives. A fruitful distinction can be made between, on the one hand, regulatory institutions and structures above the state level where decision-making mechanisms are typically grounded in consensual regimes and, on the other hand, bilateral, issue-specific collaboration, typically between adjacent countries. It is argued that, to improve overall marine spatial planning governance, these two governance components need to be brought together to improve consistency between regional alignment and to enhance opportunities for countries to collaborate at lower levels. Issue-specific transnational working groups or workshops can be one way to identify and act upon such potential synergies. © 2018 The Authors

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