The goal of the m2ec project is to provide a first-class Apache Maven support in the Eclipse IDE, making it easier to edit Maven's pom.xml, run a build from the IDE and much more. For Java developers, the very tight integration with JDT greatly simplifies the consumption of Java artifacts either being hosted on open source repositories such as Maven Central, or in your in-house Maven repository.
m2e is also a platform that let others provide better integration with additional Maven plugins (e.g. Android, web development, etc.), and facilitates the distribution of those extensions through the m2e marketplace.