European Union External Action

Historical EU-Smurf partnering agreement to save the blue planet!

17/04/2019 - 15:45
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What do the European Union and the Smurfs have in common? Both identify with the colour blue, and both care deeply about the health of our blue planet. And now they are shaking hands to clean up beaches across the world and encourage people to protect our ocean!

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For the second year running, the EEAS and DG MARE will co-organise a global #EUBeachCleanup on International Coastal Clean-up day in September. Once more the EU will spur its embassies across the world and its representations in EU Member States to organise beach clean events together with local organisations and schools, but this year the European Union is also joining forces with the Smurfs to encourage people to take care of our ocean. And on 17 April 2019 at the Smurfs' premises, the EU and the Smurfs shook hands on this exciting venture for such a noble cause!

“The Smurfs have always been the bearer of noble values,” says Ms. Véronique Culliford daughter of Smurf-creator Peyo and president of IMPS, the company behind the Smurfs. “Thanks to this partnership with the European Union, we will be able to share common ideals."

“Marine pollution is one of the most pressing environmental problems, in Europe, but certainly also in the rest of the world. With the Smurfs, we have found a partner that can help us reach out globally, while sharing our values and priorities,” explained Mr. João Aguiar Machado, EC Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, upon signing the cooperation agreement with Smurfs.

The EEAS Deputy Managing Director for Global Affairs Mr. Marc Giacomini said "I am proud to be at the signing ceremony launching our partnership with the Smurfs, and I thank IMPS for their support in mobilising people in general and the youth in particular for the protection of our ocean."

In 2018, over 70 actions and nearly 3,000 people participated in the global  EU Beach Cleanup. Cleaning up beaches has an instant positive result. The EU Delegations in Mozambique and Senegal, for instance, removed 10 tons of litter from the shores in just one day. 


The 2019 EU beach clean-up campaign kicked off 'at home' on 24 March, when several hundred Brussels-based EU colleagues joined a large crowd of people who flocked to the Belgian coast to do some spring cleaning. Around 11.5 tons of litter were collected on the day.

But the ambition for this year goes even further... In their unique public-private partnership for ocean conservation and awareness-raising, the EU and Smurfs hope the campaign will gain further momentum in 2019.

Ahead of the signing ceremony EEAS Deputy Secretary General Mr. Christian Leffler said that "through EU Delegations, we will encourage children, young people and adults of all countries to follow the example of the Smurfs and take care of our blue planet."

“By organising these activities, we want to increase global awareness about the state of our ocean, and our individual responsibility to take care of it”, added Mr. Machado. “People will find very familiar things on the beach: plastic bottles, cigarette butts, candy wraps… Cleaning it up, can help us to mind our own daily behaviour and habits.”

Of course, goodwill only gets you so far. Countries need to have proper waste management schemes in place, and this is often lacking in developing countries. The EU is also helping with that. Just last year, the EU committed EUR 9 million to reduce plastic waste and marine litter in South East Asia and EUR 19 million to support a waste management programme for the Pacific region.

Within its own territory, the EU is adopting new legislation that will curb single use plastics, especially those items that are most commonly found on the beach. In addition, the legislation focuses on lost fishing gear, which accounts to some 27% of all beach litter. Member States will have two years to turn this legislation into national laws.

In the meantime, every little bit that YOU and I do helps... As Ms. Culliford said on the EU-Smurfs cooperation agreement, "the Smurfs might be small in size, but they can make a great difference in working towards our world remaining an enjoyable place to live in. So let’s smurf together for a brighter future!

Since 2017, the Smurfs have also partnered with the United Nations on the promotion of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

And they are particularly attached to SDG-14 to Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources Think Blue, Think Smurf...