The European Commission (Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 TEU) has published on 19 March 2018 The Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community. The document highlights the progress made in the negotiation round with the UK of 16-19 March 2018, with reference to a previous draft of 28 February 2018 (available here). As stated by the UK’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, there has been an agreement on “specific safeguards when it comes to annual fishing negotiations”, adding that through 2020 the UK “will be negotiating fishing opportunities as an independent coastal state, deciding who can access our waters and on what terms”. The Draft Agreement may be found here.
The Legal Service of the Council of the European Union issued its opinion, 1 March 2018, Directive 2009/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 2003/55/EC – compatibility with UNCLOS, ST 6738 2018 INIT. The opinion states that:
“The Union does not have jurisdiction to apply energy law on unbundling, transparency, third-party access and regulated tariffs, which is unrelated to the economic exploitation of the EEZ, to pipelines crossing the EEZ of Member States. The application of the Gas Directive to the EEZ would be contrary to Articles 56 and 58 of UNCLOS as interpreted by the Court of Justice” (para. 21).
For more information, see the opinion here. Reference to the opinion was made during an EC press briefing, available here.
On the 14 February 2018 the Philippines Presidential Spokesperson issued a statement objecting to the submissions by China of names for undersea features in the “Benham Rise”, submitted to the Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) of the International Hydrographic Organization. The Philippines will not recognize these names. During a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, 26 February 2018, a reason for the objection was the violation of the Philippines’ sovereign rights, resulting from the lack of consent given to undertake the hydrographic surveys at the basis of the submissions.
For more information see the press releases, here, here, here, here, and SCUFN here. At the time of writing, a video of the hearing was available:
Representatives of governments and the social partners gathered at the International Labour Organization in Geneva on 22-26 January 2018 have adopted a revised code of practice on safety and health in shipbuilding and ship repair. The new code reflects the many changes in the industry, including the use of robotic systems, over the last 43 years since an earlier code was adopted. It focuses on the need for a preventive approach based on occupational safety and health management systems, management of change and safe work plans among others. The draft code may be found here. An overview of the document provided by the NGO IndustriALL Global Union may be found here.
On the 24 December 2017 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the previously postponed Resolution 74/249, International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. This initiates formal negotiations of a new legally binding instrument, convening four intergovernmental conference sessions from 2018 to 2020.
For more information see the final text, released 19 January 2018, available here.
The 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly adopted A/RES/72/73, Oceans and the law of the sea, and A/RES/72/72, Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments, on the 5 December 2017. Examples of interest, include the proclamation of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (A/RES/72/73 para. 292-295) and the notable vote against A/RES/72/72 by the USA, a resolution usually adopted by consensus without a vote.
Action on the draft BBNJ resolution, International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, Doc. A/72/L.7, was postponed, pending a review of its programme budget implications.
For more information see the UN press release here and UNGA 72nd Session resolutions here. The Draft BBNJ resolution (A/72/L.7) may be found here, and the programme budget implications (A/C.5/72/18) here.
On 7 December the European Council of the EU approved a directive which gives legal effect to an agreement between EU social partners in the maritime sector. As a result of the agreement with social partners, amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention made in 2014 can be incorporated into EU law. The objective of the agreement is to protect seafarers’ rights in case of abandonment; the agreement also provides compensation for contractual claims for death or long-term disability of seafarers due to occupational injury, illness or hazard. Thanks to the incorporation of the agreement into EU law, seafarers will be covered by a mandatory financial security system. More information about this agreement may be found here.