Pathways towards integrated cross-border marine spatial planning (MSP): insights from Germany, Poland and the island of Ireland

Joseph Onwona Ansong, Heather Ritchie, Kira Gee, Linda McElduff, Jacek Zaucha

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Marine Spatial Planning is labelled as ‘an idea whose time has come’ based on its applicability to address spatial conflicts and deliver sustainable use. Legislation such as the EU MSP Directive 2014/89/EU and the UK Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 requires that neighbouring marine spatial plans are coherent and coordinated to address cross-border issues. However, the implementation of MSP in cross-border areas is complex due to different administrative processes, fiscal and legislative procedures. This study argues that cross-border MSP is challenging in areas that are faced with historically contested borders which limit effective delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Two contested case study regions: Germany, Poland and the island of Ireland are compared. To help understand contemporary issues, a bespoke theoretical evaluative framework, the ‘Wheel of Integration and Adaptation’ is used to identify the challenges of cross-border MSP. An in-depth review of planning documents, policies, legislation was undertaken alongside interviews. This demonstrated that in contested areas, cross-border MSP must contend with the following challenges: ‘inter alia’ geographical peripheries syndrome, schema overload, limited transparency and blue justice, diplomatic consultation processes and differences in planning philosophies. This paper concludes by presenting five interventions as steps toward advancing cross-border MSP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Early online date15 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 15 Dec 2022


  • Marine spatial planning
  • contested marine areas
  • institutions
  • integration
  • cross-border

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