The scientific and technical review of the Commission Decision 2010/477/EU and MSFD Annex III, launched by the Commission and Member States in 2014 following a mandate of the MSFD Committee, aimed at improving MSFD implementation and achieving greater consistency and coherence in determining and assessing GES. The discussions to support the review process were captured in descriptor-specific 'review manuals' published by JRC and ICES in 2015, which also identified a number of technical issues that required further work.

The review process resulted in a revised GES Decision (EU 2017/848) and MSFD Annex III, which makes provision for specific threshold values and methodological standards to be agreed at Union level, whilst others are to be developed through regional or subregional cooperation.