Saturday

29th Apr 2017

EU's Black Sea border set in stone

The UN's top court has ruled against Ukraine in a maritime border dispute with EU member state Romania, in a decision which holds the key to major oil and gas reserves in the Black Sea.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Tuesday (3 February) decided that Snake Island - a Ukraine-owned rocky outcrop - does not entitle the country to exclusive ownership of a 12,000 square km coastal shelf, beyond a 12 nautical mile radius from the islet.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The verdict - which cannot be appealed - means Romania can exploit 80 percent of the 100 billion cubic metres of gas and 15 million tonnes of crude oil in the disputed zone, leaving the rest to Ukraine.

Ukraine deputy foreign minister Oleksandr Kupchyshyn called the ruling a "wise compromise," while Romanian diplomat Bogdan Aurescu said it was "correct," Reuters reports.

"The judgment draws an equitable line between both parties," ICJ spokesman Maxim Schouppe told EUobserver. "But in the line the court has drawn, Romania got a larger chunk than Ukraine of the disputed area."

The long-running border dispute has prevented either side from organising tenders for interested companies, such as Petrom, Romgaz, Lukoil, Total, Shell and OMV, to get the fuel out of the ground.

The once-Romanian islet has been de facto owned by the Soviet Union and later Ukraine since 1947. Romania formally ceded Snake Island to Ukraine in 1997 but the two sides could not set maritime boundaries and asked the ICJ to intervene.

Snake Island - about the size of 20 soccer pitches - houses a 100-man strong Ukrainian science mission, a lighthouse and a cashpoint. It was named by Greece in the Renaissance period, but its history dates to pre-Christian times as the legendary burial place of Greek hero Achilles.

The EU inherited a number of border disputes as part of its 2004 and 2007 rounds of enlargement.

Border problems are treated by the European Commission and member states as bilateral issues. But they have a habit of impacting EU-level policies.

The commission in January proposed creating a new diplomatic mission to help Slovenia settle a 17-year old dispute with Croatia over boundaries in the Adriatic Sea after Slovenia blocked Croatia's EU accession talks over the row last year.

Cyprus' inability to re-unite the island following a conflict with Turkey in 1974 has seen the Mediterranean EU member freeze parts of Turkey's EU accession talks.

EU member states last November also voiced concern about lack of final border arrangements between the Baltic states and Russia.

Russia has ratified border pacts with Lithuania and Latvia but the demarcation of boundaries - the installation of physical markers - is yet to take place.

Russia has refused to ratify a border agreement with Estonia however, after Tallinn inserted reference to Russia's 1920 recognition of Estonia's independence into the treaty preamble.

"The EU wants legal certainty of its external border and a stable basis for relations between its member states and Russia," an internal EU paper of November 2008 said. "The EU regrets that aspects of history have led to difficulties. It is important to take a forward-looking approach."

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU

Beijing special envoy on the Syrian conflict said in Brussels that "imposing" a solution from the outside would "not be workable" and that the peace process will not be "smooth sailing".

Russia suspected of Macron hack

Likely Russian spies tried to steal email passwords from Macron's people the same way they hacked US elections, new study says.

Russia threat triggers European military spending hike

Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine has intensified military and defence spending throughout much of Central Europe, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Investigation

Illicit Russian money poses threat to EU democracy

It cost €11 million to help Le Pen campaign in elections, but it cost the Russian mafia less than €100,000 to hire a former UK attorney general to lobby against EU sanctions.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party