Over the course of the next few months, the content of this site will expand rapidly.
Among the topics we aim to cover, are the governance structures of EU maritime law, inland waterway transport, rules applying to seafarers, trade regulations, security issues, port regulations and competion law.
Maritime law is ancient. It was also international from a very early age. Ever since Hugo Grotius formulated the doctrine of Mare Liberum, it was subject to legal scholarship, rulemaking and judicial decisions across the jurisdictional boundaries of the nations of the emerging West. It provided the legal framework for international trade to unfold and accompanied a process of globalisation well before the term was coined in recent years. Over the years, a vast body of law has emerged that is observed by seafaring nations across the world and advanced and supervised by an agency of the United Nations, the International Maritime Organisation – IMO. Underpinning international law is domestic law, forming together a two-tiered legal system governing maritime matters.
First reluctantly, then with the élan and dynamics intrinsic to the European integration project, the EU has regulated practically all aspects of maritime transport to arrive at a point where little can be done in Europe concerning the law of the seas without the approval of ‘Brussels’.
Over the last 35 years, in the European region, the law of a supranational polity – the European Union – has begun occupying a space between domestic law and international law. First reluctantly, then with the élan and dynamics intrinsic to the European integration project, the EU has regulated practically all aspects of maritime transport to arrive at a point where little can be done in Europe concerning the law of the seas without the approval of ‘Brussels’. The EU has thereby added a third, middle stratum of regulations that is vested with the authority of law for its Member States. As such EU rules have assumed major importance for maritime transport across the globe.
Despite the significance of EU rules, little information about them can be found on the Internet. While there are abundant sources of international maritime law available on-line, what is lacking so far is a one-stop-shop for European maritime law, where anybody interested in consulting the primary sources can access the relevant laws and policy papers at a glance. While the European Commission and the European Maritime Safety Agency provide rich material, a comprehensive website remains lacking.
The Norwegian Maritime Law Association has therefore set itself the target, in the three months leading up to Maritime Day 20 May 2013, to fill this gap, in close cooperation with the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law in Oslo and bxl-law in Brussels. Gradually and structured in a topical order, all textbook items of today’s maritime law will be made available here at Maritime Sources.org, with a focus on the EU’s contribution to maritime law. Teams in Oslo and Brussels will contribute an itemised list of topics that are relevant for research and practice. Visitors to Maritime Sources.org are invited to contribute to the identification of topics and material, making the site an interactive place of learning and exchange.
The website’s data therefore is a working document in permanent progress. It aims nonetheless to provide a compilation that comprises not only all the conventions, treaties, directives and regulations forming EU maritime law, but also the relevant policy papers of the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. Eventually the website will also make reference to the law of the EU’s Member States wherever relevant. All this will be done with cutting-edge topicality and the accuracy appropriate to the academic ambitions of the site.
The European and worldwide maritime communities are invited to consult, and to contribute to, Maritime Sources.org. Oslo may be an unlikely hub to become a centre of EU affairs, but it might just be right for a European but non-EU country like Norway to become the ambassador of European maritime law for us all.
|Professor Erik Røsæg
University of Oslo
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