The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) has been written in line with the Decision No 1600/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 July 2002, setting up a strategy for the protection and conservation of the marine environment, to promote sustainable use of the marine ecosystem.
The European Union had already laid down some relevant Directives concerning the protection of marine protected areas, such as the Council Directive 92/49/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora (Habitats Directive), and the Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (Birds Directive).
The MSFD aims to” apply an ecosystem-based approach to the management of human activities while enabling a sustainable use of marine goods and services, priority should be given to achieving or maintaining good environmental status in the Community’s marine environment, to continuing its protection and preservation, and to preventing subsequent deterioration”.
In order to achieve these objectives, the European Union understood that it was necessary to provide a common legislative framework to take coordinated actions under other Community and international agreements.
The Directive establishes some purposes to achieve by the year 2020 and the Member States shall take what is necessary to put into practice what is mentioned by the Directive .
The scope is to protect and preserve the marine environment from deterioration and significant risks to marine biodiversity, marine ecosystem, human health while allowing the development of sustainable economic growth.
Therefore, article 2 states that this Directive shall not apply to activities with the purpose of defense or national security.

The Directive “shall apply to all marine waters as defined in Article 3(1) , and shall take account of the transboundary effects on the quality of the marine environment of third States in the same marine region or subregion”.
The marine regions and subregions concerned include:
• the Baltic Sea
• the North-east Atlantic Ocean:
(i) the Greater North Sea, including the Kattegat, and the English Channel;
(ii) the Celtic Seas;
(iii) the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast;
(iv) in the Atlantic Ocean, the Macaronesian biogeographic region, being the waters surrounding the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands.
• the Mediterranean Sea:
(i) the Western Mediterranean Sea;
(ii) the Adriatic Sea;
(iii) the Ionian Sea and the Central Mediterranean Sea;
(iv) the Aegean-Levantine Sea.
• the Black Sea.

a. Strategies and cooperation

The Member States are invited to collaborate and cooperate especially when having borders on the same marine region or subregion. In addition to this, each State shall develop a marine strategy following the MSFD framework.
Member States are invited to inform the Commission about their strategic plans and the Commission shall be invited to provide support to the Member States by making the region in question a pilot project.
Member States shall make an initial assessment of their waters by analyzing the environmental status of waters and the pressures and impacts, including human activity.
The analysis:
(i) is based on the indicative lists of elements set out in Table 2 of Annex III, and covers the qualitative and quantitative mix of the various pressures, as well as discernible trends;
(ii) (ii) covers the main cumulative and synergetic effects;
(iii) (iii) takes account of the relevant assessments which have been made pursuant to existing Community legislation.

The European Commission is constantly monitoring the correct implementation of the Directive by the Member States, by regularly publishing reports every six years. These are then submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council.