Volume 49 (2012) / Issue 4
The current state of EU law reveals an unclear and incoherent approach to the question of its applicability to the Continental Shelf of Member States. The ambiguity in rules of public international law have led to divergences in Commission practice and EU secondary legislation. However, the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union has tentatively led the way towards a functional approach to the territorial scope of the EU Treaties, attached to the sovereignty or jurisdiction of Member States. This position, hinted at in the recent Grand Chamber judgment in Case C-347/10 Salemink but not firmly clarified, is both theoretically and practically justifiable and should be unequivocally embraced by relevant actors in this area. Such an approach would be an important step towards tracing the precise contours of the geographic areas to which EU law applies.
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