The Council of the EU adopted on June 25 a revision of a regulation which sets out rules on the jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility, as well as on intra-EU child abduction.
One of the main objectives of the revision is to improve the current legal rules that protect children in cases of cross-border parental responsibility disputes, such as those related to custody, access rights and child abduction, the Council said.
European Commission First Vice-President Timmermans said: “I am very glad that following our proposal the Council adopted new rules to ensure that any disputes between parents who disagree after separation can be quickly solved. This is about putting children first.”
European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová said: “When parents decide to separate, children can be caught in the middle, and it gets even more complicated when the parents come from different EU countries.
“In these difficult situations everybody should focus on what is best for the child. With the new rules, judicial co-operation will be faster and more efficient to make sure the children’s well-being comes first,” Jourová said.
There are about 140 000 international divorces per year, and about 1800 cases of parental child abduction in the EU.
With the update of the Brussels IIa Regulation, a child who was abducted by one parent will be returned much faster to the country where he or she is used to living in, according to the statement.
“Children, old enough to form their own views, will have the opportunity to express them in all proceedings affecting them.”
By abolishing the exequatur for all court decisions, which is an intermediate procedure required to obtain cross-border enforcement, these proceedings will become faster and less costly for the families, the statement said.
The new rules will enter into force 20 days after publication in the EU Official Journal.