Maritime cluster organisations from 10 European countries have strengthened their ties at a roundtable meeting in Paris on the 4th of November 2005. The objectives were to exchange national experiences and discuss European developments. Representatives from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom met at the headquarters of the Institut Français de la Mer. Observers from Spain and Portugal also participated in the meeting. Two representatives from the European Commission were invited to present their views on European maritime policy and the role of maritime clusters and its sectors.
The international attention for clusters and cluster policy was welcomed but the need for proper definitions of clusters was highlighted by the participants. The meeting decided that a formal network of maritime cluster organisations should be set up to also coordinate the maritime cluster discussion in Europe. The new European Network of Maritime Clusters will support the Forum discussion with the European Commission on the New European Maritime Policy, to be held in Brussels on 17th November 2005.
It became absolutely clear that the interest in a maritime cluster approach, in a national and European context, was growing quickly. At the same time proper definition of maritime clusters, maritime sectors and maritime cluster organisations were considered essential to prevent confusion on an aggregated European level. In the many countries engaged in forms of maritime cluster approach various definitions of maritime clusters are being used, each reflecting national or regional circumstances and opinions. Whilst this is very well for local situations it prevents statistics to be used on an aggregate level, and hence impairs the cluster discussion on a European platform.