EU Shipping Law

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A. Introduction


39.001 This chapter deals with two separate but related topics: navigation and short sea shipping.


39.002 At one level, it is extraordinary that the European Union (“EU”) has become involved in navigational issues. One would expect that those issues would be left to organisations such as the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) which are specialist maritime organisations. Yet, it is really impossible for the EU not to deal with navigational issues given the cross-over between navigation and various issues which are readily dealt with by the EU such as safety, pilotage, the environment and marine equipment. However, it is notable that the measures which relate to navigation are largely (but not entirely) recommendations and therefore not legally binding in their own right. This chapter deals with various measures which have been adopted by the EU in regard to navigation, including, Decision 92/143 of 25 February 1992 on radionavigation systems for Europe,1 Decision 2004/71 on essential requirements relating to marine radio communication equipment which is intended to be used on non-International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (“SOLAS”) vessels and to participate in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (“GMDSS”).2

Short sea shipping

39.003 Short sea shipping,3 as its name suggests, is the concept of maritime transport over short distances – near shipping in other words.4 It is also referred to as coastal shipping

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and can either be cabotage (between two parts in the same State) or at least involving no more than two neighbouring or contiguous States. It is attractive from an environmental perspective in that it diverts traffic from road or rail to sea but it can be slower and more awkward because it is less direct and usually longer. The EU has adopted various measures including a communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee (“EESC”) and the Committee of the Regions on Short Sea Shipping.5 The desirability of encouraging and promoting short sea shipping has been emphasised a number of times – for example, it was reiterated in the 7 May 2014 Athens Declaration. Short sea shipping is growing in popularity. In the 1990s, short sea shipping was the only mode of transport that proved able to keep up with the fast growth of road transport. Between 1995 and 2002, the tonne-kilometre performance of both short sea shipping and road grew by 25%. In 2001, short sea shipping performed 40% of all tonne-kilometres in Europe while the share of road transport was 45%.

B. Council Decision 92/143 on radionavigation systems for Europe


39.004 On 25 February 1992, the Council adopted Decision 92/143 of on radionavigation systems for Europe.6

Legal background to the decision

39.005 The legal basis for the decision was Article 84(2) of the then European Economic Treaty (“EEC”) Treaty which is equivalent now to Article 100(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”). The legislative history included a proposal from the Commission,7 an opinion of the European Parliament8 as well as an opinion of the EESC.9

Factual background to the decision

39.006 The background to Decision 92/143 is clear from the recitals to the decision which state in part:

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“Whereas the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas 1974) drafted under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), requires contracting parties to arrange for the establishment and maintenance of such aids to navigation as the volume of traffic and the degree of risk warrant;

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