Brexit Update (3). Maritime organisations.


‘Exit day’ will see changes in two maritime organisations of which the UK is currently a member.

  1. The International Maritime Organisation (‘IMO’).

The IMO is a UN body of which most countries, and all EU member states, are members. The EU is not a member but the Commission has observer status. However, the Commission ensures that Member States follow a pre determined EU line in meetings of the IMO as outlined in this extract from the European Parliament’s 2016 briefing

“To ensure that the EU speaks with one voice in IMO meetings, it applies an informal process for coordinating the positions of the EU Member States, Norway and Iceland.For most IMO meetings, the European Commission prepares a coordination paper, suggesting the positions for the Member States to follow. Moreover, several weeks before key IMO sessions, a coordination meeting is held in Brussels for Member States’ representatives to agree on joint positions. In practice though, while during IMO meetings the EU Council presidency advances the coordinated position, individual EU Member States can take the floor and express their own position, sometimes departing slightly from the joint one.”

The key  word in the last sentence is ‘slightly’.  EU Member States have to toe the line in IMO meetings both in how they vote and what they say.

Not any more, for the UK, after ‘Exit Day’.

  1. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)

The European Commission proposed to set up a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) in the aftermath of the “Erika” accident. EMSA was established by Regulation 1406/2002 ,  on 27 June 2002 and entered into force in August of the same year. EMSA provides technical and scientific assistance to the European Commission in the fields of maritime safety, maritime security, prevention of pollution and response to pollution caused by ships. The UK will cease to be member of EMSA as of ‘exit day’. However, article 17 of Regulation 1406/2002 ,  provides for participation of non-EU countries  “which have entered into agreements with the European Community, whereby they have adopted and are applying Community law in the field of maritime safety and prevention of pollution by ships.”

And that means accepting continuing role of CJEU, so not very likely.


Published by

Professor Simon Baughen

Professor Simon Baughen was appointed as Professor of Shipping Law in September 2013 (previously Reader at the University of Bristol Law School). Simon Baughen studied law at Oxford and practised in maritime law for several years before joining academia. His research interests lie mainly in the field of shipping law, but also include the law of trusts and the environmental law implications of the activities of multinational corporations in the developing world. Simon's book on Shipping Law, has run to seven editions (soon to be eight) and is already well-known to academics and students alike as by far the most learned and approachable work on the subject. Furthermore, he is now the author of the very well-established practitioner's work Summerskill on Laytime. He has an extensive list of publications to his name, including International Trade and the Protection of the Environment, and Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs - Closing the Governance Gap. He has also written and taught extensively on commercial law, trusts and environmental law. Simon is a member of the Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, a University Research Centre within the School of Law, and he currently teaches at Swansea on the LLM in:Carriage of Goods by Sea, Land and Air; Charterparties Law and Practice; International Corporate Governance.

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