Just over five years after the entry into force of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), this report marks the end of the first, ambition-setting phase of its implementation. An unprecedented data-collection and analysis exercise has been undertaken, during which Member States have provided an assessment of the state of their seas (the initial assessment), have defined what they consider to be “good environmental status” (GES) of their marine waters and have established a series of targets to bridge the gap between the current situation, and where they want to be in 2020, the date by which GES must be achieved. The exercise has provided an opportunity for a broad public debate on the protection of the marine environment, has brought together a vast amount of knowledge about our seas and oceans and triggered further regional collaboration, in particular through Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs). At the same time, the Commission’s assessment of Member States’ reports gives rise to concern: Member States’ definition of good environmental status and the path they set out to achieve it shows overall limited ambition, often fails to take into account existing obligations and standards and lacks coherence across the Union, even between neighbouring countries within the same marine region. Read the full report here.