The European Commission is holding a broad conference in Brussels today, with a view to the formulation of a common European policy in shipping. The conference, which will be attended by 250 representatives of member states, companies, associations in the sector and environmental organizations «will examine the issues at stake of a comprehensive EU shipping policy from an economic, scientific, environmental and social viewpoint,» targeting «an optimization of the synergies among maritime-related activities and an increase in their economic and social potential,» the Commission said in a statement. With a coastline totaling 70,000 kilometers, half of its population living within less than 50km of the sea, and coastal regions accounting for about 40 percent of the Union’s gross domestic product, the importance of a holistic approach to the subject is evident, the Commission said. On the basis of the conclusions of the conference, the Commission will issue a «Green Paper» for shipping. This document will then undergo a broad process of consultation with all agencies in the industry, with a view to drafting a comprehensive legal framework that will include all economic, commercial and environmental parameters.