If a person is a parent in one EU state, he must also be a parent in all the others, regardless of the type of family and regardless of how the child was born or how it was conceived. The European Commission is proposing a regulation, i.e. a law directly applicable in all Member States, aimed at harmonizing the rules of private international law relating to parenthood at Community level. One of the key aspects is that the parenthood established in one EU Member State should be recognized in all other Member Stateswithout any special procedure.
The proposal, which in order to become law still requires unanimous approval in the Council, concerns all children whose parents have been recognized in a member state, and who are in another EU country, regardless of how the child is born or from how it was conceived, from the type of family and regardless of the nationality of the child or of the parents. The proposal for a regulation, underlines the Commission, is focused on the best interests and on the rights of the child. It will provide legal clarity for all types of households who find themselves in a cross-border situation within the EU, either because they move from one Member State to another to travel or reside, or because they have family members or assets in another Member State .
Union law as interpreted by the European Court of Justice, in particular in the matter of free movement, already provides that parenthood established in one Member State is recognized in all the other Member States for certain purposes: access to the territory, right to stay, non-discrimination with citizens. However, this is not the case for rights deriving from national law. The proposed regulation, if approved, will allow children in cross-border situations to benefit from parental rights under national law, in matters such as succession, maintenance, custody or the right of parents to act as representatives lawyers of the minor (for scholastic or health matters).
There are “2 million” children in Europe who could find themselves in a similar situation, i.e. having parents who are such for the EU state in which they were born but not in the one to which they moved, explained the European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders , presenting the proposed regulation at a press conference in Brussels.
Currently, Member States have difficulties with the recognition of paternity, because they have different substantive law rules on the institution of parenthood, different rules on jurisdiction and conflict of laws for establishing paternity in cross-border situations, and different rules on recognition of paternity established in another Member State. Existing EU regulations on family law, succession and public documents do not include recognition of paternity within their scope.
“We will try to convince each Member State that it is important to think about children’s rights. We don’t want to change national law, but only protect children’s rights”, Reynders underlined, presenting the proposed regulation at a press conference in Brussels. to ensure that parenthood recognized by a single EU State is recognized in all the others, without the need for special procedures, in cross-border situations, i.e., for example, in the case of transfer from one Member State to another.
“We don’t want – he continued – to change the definition of adoption or of a couple, but only focus on the rights of children”, children who “are there, are there”, recalled Reynders adding: “Naturally if it is not possible to convince all the States members”, given that unanimity is needed in the Council to approve the regulation, other avenues will be explored, but the goal is to convince all countries of the validity of the proposal, which aims to protect the “rights of children” and not to undermine national legislation on family law.