Maritime Border Control in the European Union

Authored by: Alexander Proelss

The Routledge Handbook of European Security Law and Policy

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138609990
eBook ISBN: 9780429465918
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter analyzes the regime of maritime border control in the EU. It demonstrates that while the pertinent legal measures taken by the EU have become more diverse and sophisticated over the years, the EU has not established and arguably could not establish a truly supranational external border policy due to its limited legislative powers in the field concerned. The chapter takes the view that the main legal challenges of the EU maritime border control regime continue to arise in the context of safeguarding that the European measures, in particular the Frontex Regulation and the External Sea Borders Regulation, are enacted and implemented in such a way that they respect the pertinent standards of the international law of the sea as well as human and fundamental rights law. Following a detailed assessment of how the EU has reacted to these challenges, this chapter submits that the Union has clearly enhanced the relevant standard of protection over the years by amending the legal measures applicable to maritime border control. That said, there is still ample need for improvements in relation to whether the regulations concerned are also implemented accordingly in legal practice, and the uncertainties relating to whether maritime border control activities ought to be attributed to the EU or to the Member States – or even to both of them – continue to have a negative effect on the conditions under which legal remedies may be invoked against these activities.

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