EU Shipping Law

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European Union external relations law and shipping

A. Introduction

25.001 This chapter examines selected aspects of the external dimension of European Union (“EU”) shipping law.1 The topic of the EU’s external dimensions or foreign relations is an enormous topic so this chapter is necessarily selective in nature. 25.002 Traditionally, the topic of “external relations” was seen as somewhat esoteric but the topic could become even more significant if the UK leaves the EU (i.e. if “Brexit” occurs). It is not clear, at the time of writing, what will be the nature and terms of the relationship between the EU and the UK so the UK could be either a total stranger (in the

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case of a “hard Brexit”) in which case the general EU external dimension would apply but if there is a special arrangement between the EU and the UK then the terms of that relationship could be more significant. 25.003 The external dimension to EU shipping law is complicated by such factors as that the EU participates as a contracting party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS III”) but, conversely, the EU is not a member in its own right of the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (“IMO”). While the EU Member States are members of the IMO and vote in their own right, their views are co-ordinated by the EU (acting primarily through the Commission) so there is almost invariably a common view expressed at the IMO even though the EU is not a member. The situation becomes more complicated when the EU seeks to adopt a measure which is lawful according to the IMO rules but unlawful under EU law (e.g. because it would involve EU Member States engaging in discrimination in favour of, or against, EU Member States)

B. EU law generally on external relations


25.004 The EU is not a State but it is actively involved in international affairs. Indeed, in many respects, the EU is seen by many as having international legal personality.2 Indeed, in some respects and in so far as Member States allow it, the EU even represents the interests not only of the EU itself but also its Member States in certain international matters (e.g. in certain international organisations).

The Treaty on European Union

25.005 As will be recalled from , there are two main treaties in EU law: the Treaty on European Union (“TEU”) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). Both treaties are relevant to the topic of external relations and the external dimension to EU law. 25.006 Title V of the TEU has some provisions which are relevant to the external relations of the EU from the perspective of EU shipping law. Title V is entitled “General Provisions on the Union’s External Action and Specific Provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy”. 25.007 of Title V is entitled “General Provisions on the Union’s External Action”. 25.008 Article 21(1) of the TEU (which is in of Title V) provides that the EU’s

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“action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.”

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