In his 2018 State of the Union Address, the then President of the European Union (EU), Jean-Claude Juncker, presented new proposals to ensure full EU solidarity on migration and better protection of Europe's external borders.
Amongst them, the Commission proposed to reinforce the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA, formerly and widely known as FRONTEX) in order to correspond to the common challenges Europe is facing in combatting illicit migration and managing its borders. Such reinforcement included the ability of FRONTEX to rely on its own equipment, such as vessels, planes and vehicles.
The common concern that underpins such developments is maritime security. The EU, recognising that maritime security is a shared need for the welfare and prosperity of the EU and the world, has developed since 2014 (revised in 2018) a forward-looking EU Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) to protect sea-related interests. Amongst the key principles that run across EUMSS is ‘respect for rules and principles, which ensures the good governance and the adherence to the rule of law that is the cornerstone of the EU’.
It is this key principle that informs the main research question of the present project: is international law fit to address the beyond 2020 challenges to the EU maritime security? To put the question differently, is the new EUMSS consistent with international law, and if not, what remedies are available to ensure compliance with the rule of law in the maritime security domain?
Based on the abovementioned key actions of the EUMSS, the present project will identify specific areas where international law is challenged by this new EU maritime security edifice and will seek to establish whether the traditional rules would suffice to address present and future realities. These areas amalgamate into four major categories and the related questions:
novel threats to EU maritime security: which are the novel threats to EU maritime security and how they are currently addressed?
maritime domain awareness: is the use of modern technologies, including drones and satellite imageries, in consistency with international law?
maritime multilateralism and cooperation: how does international law address such synergies? Who would be responsible for a potential human rights law violation in the context of such operation, for example for non-saving lives at sea?
legal remedies: what kind of remedies are appropriate in the context of the EUMSS, and more importantly, before which court or tribunal such an application may be brought?
Although each one of these categories may well support individual research, they still constitute facets of the same intellectual problem and pose in effect the same systemic and doctrinal questions. We will therefore endeavour to ascertain whether the challenges they pose to the system of international law, as it stands today, may be addressed within the parameters of the present-day construction or whether they necessitate further adjustment or even the creation of a new regulatory framework.
Such questions and challenges are of significant concern for our country, since Greece has been largely affected by the-still ongoing-EU refugee crisis as well as by other transnational criminal activities, like drug and small arms trafficking and illegal (over)fishing.
The research team is comprised of experts in each field, thus allowing the research to proceed at a fast pace beyond the first layer to in-depth questions and identify the pivotal points of concern. Deliverables include scientific papers of the highest quality and journal articles to be submitted for publication to renowned international law journals; website information, and a collective volume at the end of the project.