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Methodological approach to demonstrating the economic effects of MSP

Study on the Economic effects of Maritime Spatial Planning


This study aims to provide greater insight into MSP’s economic effects, i.e. the effects of MSP for the maritime economy and stakeholders directly related to the maritime economy. Factors such as employment and environmental effects are not included in this study.

Unlike cost benefit analyses, the report is mostly limited to a qualitative assessment of the benefits associated with MSP, although it also includes a methodology which has been applied to provide an indication of the quantitative effects of MSP. These quantitative effects need to be interpreted with great care; they provide insights on a macro-economic level, but are based on assumptions and require additional studies on a case-by-case basis in order to be able to draw more accurate conclusions.

Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What economic benefits does MSP have?
  • What are the economic benefits of MSP for future scenarios in the European Union?
  • What methodology can be used to calculate the economic effects of MSPs in a certain area?

Implementation Context

The economic effects of MSP are to be found in reduced costs associated with non-coordination due to integrated (i.e. less fragmented) policy making and cross-border cooperation. For the internal market, MSP provides a basis for simplified permit systems, thus reducing the costs for regulatory and administrative procedures and creating a transparent and reliable planning framework.

Research has show that the three direct economic benefits are:

  • Coordination efficiency and effectiveness for governments;
  • Lower costs for companies;
  • Enhanced investment climate.

Besides direct effects, MSP also has indirect economic effects, such as combining maritime activities, which can lead to synergies and cost reduction. Other non-economic effects, such as substantial environmental benefits, are left outside of the study.

Aspects / Objectives

The question to be answered is whether Maritime Spatial Planning leads to the desired economic effects. More specifically, the study aims to find out whether and on which scale economic effects for maritime stakeholders in the European Union will occur due to Maritime Spatial Planning.


The research used relevant literature to develop a methodological framework to study the effects. The effects of MSP on the growth of the maritime economy will be demonstrated by

  • The level to which it impacts transaction costs
  • The level to which it accelerates economic activity.

Main Outputs / Results

The conclusions of the report shows that the benefits of MSP can be divided into three categories:

  • Lower coordination costs: making governmental coordination mechanisms more efficient and more effective
  • Lower transaction costs, such as search costs, legal costs, administrative costs and fewer conflicts (opportunity costs)
  • Enhanced investment climate: Research has been done to economic growth and acceleration of economic activity by MSP. Conclusions is that a valid and reliable estimate proved to be unfeasible and purely speculative.


The methodology used in the report can be applied to specific cases or areas. It makes it possible for an organisation to show the direct economic effects of MSP for information purposes.

Responsible Entity

Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Costs / Funding Source

Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. Direct costs of this practice elaboration are unknown. 

Contact Person

Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries MARE.E.1 ‘Maritime Policy Baltic and North Sea’

European Commission