The European Environment Agency's European Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine waters (ETC-ICM) aims to support the assessment, development, and implementation of EU policies through data analysis, data monitoring, and scientific knowledge sharing. European Topic Centres are important instruments of the European Environment Agency to monitor the environment in its member countries and analyse the current as well as the future state of the environment.
Within the Topic Centre, Ecologic Institute focuses on policy and socioeconomics in relation to environmental changes in European waters. Ecologic Institute provides expert advice on water issues related to EU measures such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) as well as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Integrated Maritime Policy and Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The current ETC-ICM began in 2014 and consists of 17 partner institutes. It is the successor of the ETC-ICM which ran from 2011 to 2013 and the ETC on Water which ran from 2004 to 2010. The Topic Centre on Inland, Coastal and Marine waters works in five major areas:
- Monitoring water resources and collecting data on water quality and quantity, as well as biological and hydro-morphological elements and pressures, covering all areas of groundwater, surface, transitional, coastal and marine waters according to needs at the European level;
- Developing indicators to aid in the assessment of the environment to support policy processes in the inland, coastal marine and freshwater areas;
- Contributing to the development and implementation of EU policies, in particular the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD);
- Contributing to the EEA assessment reports;
- Capacity building in EEA member countries.
Ecologic Institute’s work on freshwater issues focuses partly on the development, update and investigation of freshwater indicators in addition to the preparation of factsheets on the state of the environment, pressures and driving forces. At the same time, Ecologic Institute will contribute to assessments in preparation for the review of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Water Blueprint for 2015. This includes tasks such as updating existing assessments, reporting on public participation under the WFD and assessing freshwater ecosystems.
In regard to maritime issues, Ecologic Institute researches maritime activities and their pressures on Europe's marine environment. In addition, Ecologic Institute analyzes the economic and social information reported by Member States in the context of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Another part of Ecologic Institute’s contribution will be the establishment of frameworks, typologies and methods to assess Europe’s marine’s ecosystems, with particular emphasis on natural capital and ecosystem services. This will help Member States assess their ecosystems, as required by one of the targets of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.