In the aftermath of the "Erika" accident, the European Commission proposed to set up a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) which was established by Regulation (EC) 1406/2002. Subsequent amendments have enlarged its mandate (see Regulation (EU) 100/2013). Based in Lisbon, EMSA provides technical, operational and scientific assistance to the European Commission in the fields of maritime safety, maritime security, prevention of, and response, to pollution caused by ships as well as response to pollution caused by oil and gas installations. Its assistance is particularly relevant in the continuous process of updating and developing new legislation, monitoring its implementation and evaluating the effectiveness of the measures in place. The Agency also assists EU neighbouring countries to extend know-how and capabilities.
Furthermore EMSA assists Member States affected by pollution caused by ships and oil and gas installations, upon request, with antipollution means (specialised ships and equipment) and satellite images to detect pollution (CleanSeaNet). The European Commission proposed a financial package of €160.5 million over a period of seven years (2014-2020) to allow EMSA to finance this specific task on a multi-annual basis and in a more efficient way (see Regulation (EU) 911/2014). The mid-term evaluation (see also its staff working document) has concluded that these activities have added-value and contribute to a better protection of the marine environment, coasts and citizens.
A third key area under constant development and of increasing added value is EMSA maritime monitoring and information activities. The European Commission is promoting a greater use of EMSA assistance for developing technical solutions for simplified reporting formalities for shipping and interoperable IT solutions like the Single Window and the e-Manifest in view of completing an EU maritime transport space without barriers by 2020. The integrated maritime services , building on SafeSeaNet, LRIT, coastal and satellite AIS, THETIS, etc., are extending digital solutions to other user communities and EU bodies, serving priority political areas such as security and the migration situation. A challenge for the future is to assist more national authorities involved in Coast Guard functions for enhanced cross-sector and cross-border concerted action.