Legal Implications for the Russian Northern Sea Route and Westward in the Barents Sea

FNI Report 4/2005. Lysaker, FNI, 2005, 120 p.

Norway is implementing strict environmental measures for the Barents Sea governing vessels carrying Russian hydrocarbons westward to Europe and the US. Although it is too early to say, the EU and US coastal environmental regimes may also have an effect on the hydrocarbon vessel traffic in the Barents Sea, including port entry requirements in both of these federations for such vessels. In spite of probable Russian membership in World Trade Organisation (WTO) within the near future, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) regime governing shipping is still under formation and some years will elapse before definite guidelines appear. The EU ‘effects doctrine’ is not a remote wish but rather a firm characteristic indicating the EU legal position. The EU Commission Competition Directorate has drawn similar conclusions during recent years. Russian or third-country vessels owned by companies controlled by nonEU nationals are however beyond the competition law jurisdiction of the EU, and it would not be expected that any justification of the 1986 Regulation would bring any changes. In this respect, the EU trade in shipping acquis, with the exception of charter parties that are covered by the Liners Conferences Agreements, does not receive the same harsh criticism addressed to the similar US legislation listed in the 1996 Blocking Statute.