Coastal Erosion and Protection Policies in Europe: From EU Programme (Eurosion and Interreg Projects) to Local Management

  • Giovanni Randazzo
  • Jordi Serra Raventos
  • Lanza Stefania
Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 1000)


The European Union, a political entity established in 1952, has undergone continuous expansion of its borders. However, aggregating territories has very different implications from the geographical, the political, or the ethical standpoint. Of the current 27 Member States, 22 open directly onto five different seas. Thus, over the last few decades, there has been an increasing trend of people living along coastal areas. This has caused significant changes to the coastal environment, placing increasing demands on coastal resources and increasing exposure to coastal hazards, such erosion and flooding, these together being considered as among the most serious problems.

Currently, the total coastal area lost in Europe due to marine erosion is estimated to be about 15 km2 per year and the International Commission on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations has estimated that the related cost will average 5.4 billion Euros annually in the period between 1990 and 2020. In this light, the European Commission’s DG Environment with the programme EUROSION sought to analyse the problem as a whole, to identify the causes related to different geographic areas and to outline possible solutions. With the subsequent cross-border programmes (INTERREG and ENPI), the European Union has undertaken the general dissemination of information acquired locally, focusing attention on and expanding knowledge of different situations, including those of social perspectives. EUROSION has tried to transform the conceptual positions related to the problem of coastal erosion, examining the actual effects of the different seas, defining the main causes of erosion, distinguishing between natural and human causes, and referring them to a temporal-spatial scale.

For each coastal system, more than one policy option was specified, but the ramifications have not always been completely clear. In some case studies, coastal-defence policies at a national level have not yet been adopted, leaving management of erosion problems often to local and/or regional authorities (e.g. many Islands and autonomous regions use a regional approach). Generally, however, a dual approach is taken: a proactive approach refers to a policy of anticipating erosion processes whereas a reactive approach refers to the implementing of coastal-defence measures in order to reduce the effects of existing erosion processes.

Within the various geographical areas, levels of attention and response to the problem have differed sharply due to conceptual and cultural differences coupled with variable socioeconomic circumstances. Generally, countries seek to “hold the line” and to avoid realignment; however, in some local circumstances realignment has been possible and in these cases has been supported by adequate rational policy frameworks. Cross-border programs have revealed that implementation at national level has varied and has been discontinuous due both to the local legislative context, but also to a poor ability to transpose the European guidelines.

It can be shown that, even in relation to countering the problems of coastal erosion, at a strategic European level, a truly common policy that clearly states the line to follow is lacking. Consequently, the development of knowledge tools that could solve the problem and provide consistency of approach between countries is difficult to guide and finance. There is a need to adopt a true Coastal Zone Management Plan approach and to provide for costs and benefits at local and regional levels. Beyond the contents of a simple intervention, it is therefore important to aim at an overall development that takes into account the realistic potential and the different potential of various geographical and socio-economic contexts.


Sandy Beach Coastal Erosion Integrate Coastal Zone Management Coastal Defence Beach Nourishment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Randazzo
    • 1
  • Jordi Serra Raventos
    • 2
  • Lanza Stefania
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità degli Studi di MessinaMessinaItaly
  2. 2.Department d’Estratigrafia, Paleontologia i Geociències MarinesUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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