Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) sources, such as offshore wind, waves, tides, ocean currents, thermal and salinity gradients, appear as promising low-carbon forms of energy. However, with the sole exception of offshore wind, MRE exploitation is far from being commercially feasible. Among the obstacles faced by the sector, the complex legal framework that applies to MRE projects stands out. In this context, the objective of this work is to assess the main aspects of the MRE legal framework, and when necessary, propose corrective measures for further development of the sector. For this purpose, the countries of the Atlantic region of Europe (France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and the UK), which present one of the world's largest MRE resource, were used as a benchmark. Overall, the adoption of marine planning policies contributes positively to the development of the sector, defining priority areas for MRE exploitation and establishing clear preference criteria with other maritime activities. Furthermore, streamlining licensing procedures and periods, ideally adopting a one-stop-shop approach like the case of Scotland, becomes essential to attract new developers and investors to the MRE sector. Finally, the examples of Ireland, Portugal and especially the UK, show that the adoption of MRE sectoral plans, including actions for financial support, technology progress and supply chain development, is essential to achieve a fully-fledged MRE industry.