The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) sets out a plan of action relating to marine environmental policy and in particular to achieving ‘good environmental status’ (GES) in European marine waters by 2020. Article 8.1 (c) of the Directive calls for ‘an economic and social analysis of the use of those waters and of the cost of degradation of the marine environment’. The MSFD is ‘informed’ by the Ecosystem Approach to management, with GES interpreted in terms of ecosystem functioning and services provision. Implementation of the Ecosystem Approach is expected to be by adaptive management policy and practice. The initial socio-economic assessment was made by maritime EU Member States between 2011 and 2012, with future updates to be made on a regular basis. For the majority of Member States, this assessment has led to an exercise combining an analysis of maritime activities both at national and coastal zone scales, and an analysis of the non-market value of marine waters. In this paper we examine the approaches taken in more detail, outline the main challenges facing the Member States in assessing the economic value of achieving GES as outlined in the Directive and make recommendations for the theoretically sound and practically useful completion of the required follow-up economic assessments specified in the MSFD.