Operational approaches have been more and more widely developed and used for providing marine data and information services for different socio-economic sectors of the Blue Growth and to advance knowledge about the marine environment. The objective of operational oceanographic research is to develop and improve the efficiency, timeliness, robustness and product quality of this approach. This white paper aims to address key scientific challenges and research priorities for the development of operational oceanography in Europe for the next 5–10 years. Knowledge gaps and deficiencies are identified in relation to common scientific challenges in four EuroGOOS knowledge areas: European Ocean Observations, Modelling and Forecasting Technology, Coastal Operational Oceanography and Operational Ecology. The areas “European Ocean Observations” and “Modelling and Forecasting Technology” focus on the further advancement of the basic instruments and capacities for European operational oceanography, while “Coastal Operational Oceanography” and “Operational Ecology” aim at developing new operational approaches for the corresponding knowledge areas.