EU Maritime Governance

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Coming soon

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, for the longest time of its existence, was national law on the one hand side and public international law agreed between seafaring nations on the other hand. One of the main novelties of EU maritime law is that it introduced a middle layer between these strata by creating supranational law for the countries within the EU’s jurisdiction.


Law is the result of lawmaking, by the legislator mainly and by the judiciary. In Union law, these are Regulations, Directives and Decisions adopted in a legislative procedure (Art. 288 and 289 TFEU) – secondary law (as opposed to the primary law of the Treaties) in the parlance of Union legal doctrine.

Art. 2(2) of Reg. 2099/2002 establishing a Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (COSS) lists most of the legislative acts that would fall into the category of “Union maritime legislation.”

As secondary law also qualify international agreements duly ratified by the European Union. By virtue of accession (Art. 216 TFEU) they become an integral part of Union law (Case C-308/06 – Intertanko).

Art. 2(1) of Reg. 2099/2002 establishing a Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (COSS) describes the notion of ‘international instruments’ in maritime law.

A nutshell description of the EU legislative procedure is provided on the European Parliament’s website.


EU maritime law mostly consists of decisions for ratifications (Art. 216 TFEU) and of Regulations and Directives (Art. 288 TFEU). Crucially, however, relevant Union law also comes along in the form of delegated acts (Art. 290 TFEU) and implementing acts (Art. 291 TFEU) adopted by the European Commission. These are quasi-legislative acts and executive acts respectively allocated at a tertiary level of rulemaking. They have significant importance for maritime law and are prepared and adopted by the European Commission with only limited influence of the EU co-legislator (European Parliament and Council) and the Member States through specialists’ committees (mostly the COSS) respectively.

Delegated acts

Art. 290 TFEU

Legal basis:

  • Article 290 TFEU (self-sufficient, that is, in no need of completion by horizontal secondary legislation)
  • Legislative delegation (basic act with vertical rules derived from Common Understanding) –
  • Articles 105 and 107 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Non-legal basis:

  • Communication on delegated acts of the Commission (COM (2009) 673 of 9.12.2009)
  • Council Declaration on delegated acts 14.12.2009 (Council doc. 17512/09)
  • European Parliament resolution of 5.5.2010 on the power of legislative delegation (OJ C 81E, 15.3.2011, p. 6)
  • Framework Agreement on relations between EP and Commission (OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47; paragraph 15 and Annex I)
  • Common Understanding on delegated Acts of 3.3.2011 (Council doc. 8753/11)

Implementing act

Art. 291 TFEU

Legal basis:

  • Article 291 TFEU
  • Comitology Regulation 182/2011 (OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13)
  • Rules of Procedure of the Appeal Committee (OJ C 183, 24.6.2011, p. 13)
  • Articles 106(1)-(3) and 107 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament

Examples from EU maritime law

Directive 2012/33/EU amending Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels

  • Delegated acts: recital 30, Art. 4c(4) and Art. 7(4) in conjunction with Art. 9a of Dir. 1999/32/EC as amended
  • Implementing acts: recitals 31 and 32, Art. 4c(4)(b), Art. 6(1b), Art. 7(1a) in conjunction with Art. 9 of Dir. 1999/32/EC as amended

Directive 2012/35/EU amending Directive 2008/106/EC on the minimum level of training of seafarers

  • Delegated acts: recital 12, Art. 27 in conjunction with Art. 27a of Dir. 2008/106/EC as amended
  • Implementing acts: recitals 16 and 16, Art. 19(3), Art. 20(6), Art. 25a(4) in conjunction with Art. 28 of Dir. 2008/106/EC as amended

Directive 2013/38/EU amending Directive 2009/16/EC on port State control

  • Delegated acts: recital 21 of Dir. 2013/38/EU, Art. 30a, Art. 30b of Dir. 2009/16/EC as amended
  • Implementing acts: Articles 10(3), 14(4), 15(4), 18a(7), 23(5) and 27(2) in conjunctions with Art. 31 of Dir. 2009/16/EC as amended

Pending alignment proposals: 

“Omnibus I” in the ‘Lisbonisation’-process (COM(2013) 451 of 27.6.2013)

  • Annex No. 99, 102, 103, 110, 113, 116, 120, 122-124, 126-128
  • Separate alignments: Dir. 2009/16/EC (COM(2012) 129); Dir. 96/98/EC (COM(2012) 772)

“Omnibus III” in the ‘Lisbonisation’-process (COM(2013) 751 of 30.10.2013)

  • Annex I No. 23-27
  • Annex II No. 18/9

Cases before the European Court of Justice (ECJ)

(not related to maritime law)

Case C-355/10, European Parliament v. Council, judgment of 5.9.2012

Case C-427/12, Commission v. European Parliament/Council, judgement of 18.3.2014

Case C-65/13, European Parliament v. Commission – pending

Case C-286/14, European Parliament v. Council – pending

Specialists’ committee

The COSS (Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships – Regulation 2099/2002) is “the maritime committee of comitology” (that is, it has to be consulted) for Commission implementing acts (not necessarily delegated acts) in maritime law.

Regulation 2099/2002 establishing a Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (COSS)

Written Questions by Members of the European Parliament (rule 130)

Written Question E-6149/2010 by Struan Stevenson: “Legislative delegation“ with answer by President Barroso of 11.8.2010 (OJ C 216 E, 22.7.2011)

Written Question E-004389-13 by Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra: “Questions concerning delegated acts and implementing acts” with answer by Commissioner Šefčovič of 23.5.2013

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