Many of Europe's coastal zones face problems of deterioration of their environmental, socio-economic and cultural resources. Since 1996, the European Commission has been working to identify and promote measures to remedy this deterioration and to improve the overall situation in our coastal zones.
EU policies are of key importance in relation to ICZM, both in terms of direct impact that they can have on the physical environment on the coast, both maritime and terrestrial; and in respect of their influence on the scope for integrating separate policy measures. Currently, there are a wide range of EU policies that to varying degrees influence coastal development and their management.
Unlike other intergovernmental institutions (e.g., the United Nations or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development--OECD), the EU is provided with legislative powers. Among the legal instruments available to the EU there are (a) regulations, directly binding upon the Member States, and (b) directives, to be transposed in national legislation. From the 1970s, the EU has put in place over 300 instruments in 30 years to protect and enhance its marine and coastal environments.