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Introduction: External Aspects of the European Union Common Fisheries Policy
The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law  (IF0.656),  Pub Date : 2020-02-17, DOI: 10.1163/15718085-12341002
Richard Barnes, James Harrison, Eva van der Marel, Mihail Vatsov

The European Union (EU) is a unique international organisation. Its constituent treaties establish a regional legal order separate from international law but also integral to the legal systems of its Member States. EU law has supremacy over the domestic laws of the Member States. The EU also possesses international legal personality and is empowered to enter exclusively into binding legal relations with non-EU States (hereinafter third States) on behalf of its twenty-seven Member States in respect of those matters over which it enjoys competence. The exclusive competence of the EU extends to the conservation and management of marine living resources, which has allowed it to play a significant role in the development of fisheries law and policy. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is a set of rules agreed by Member States for regulating the conservation and management of stocks in so-called Union waters – the combined waters of the EU’s constituent Member States – as well as the regulation of fishing vessels flying the flag of an EU Member State in the waters under the jurisdiction of third States or on the high seas. In broad terms, it treats the waters and resources therein as a common resource and EU nationals enjoy equal access to waters and fishing opportunities, subject to some legally defined exceptions or conditions. The CFP was introduced in 1970, and been subject to periodic reviews and reform. he CFP has four main policy areas: fisheries management, market and trade policy, structural funding, and international policy. Alongside internal rules harmonising regulations between Member States, the CFP also has an important external dimension. It is this aspect of EU fisheries law which is the focus of this special issue. This introduction provides necessary context on the EU external fisheries policy and identifies some key issues that are explained in more detail in the other papers to this special issue.