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EU lawmakers back recognition of parental rights across the EU

Members of the European Parliament agreed their position on a proposed EU regulation to ensure parental rights are recognised across the Union independently from how a child is born

By: EBR - Posted: Wednesday, November 8, 2023


by Silvia Ellena

Members of the European Parliament on Tuesday (7 November) agreed their position on a proposed EU regulation to ensure parental rights are recognised across the Union independently from how a child is born.

The law was proposed by the European Commission last December to ensure that parental links established in one member state are recognised in other EU countries and introduce a European parenthood certificate.

The regulation would guarantee all families, including ‘rainbow families’ whose parent-child relations are not currently recognised in all member states, to maintain their parental rights when moving across the Union.

The proposed legislation was supported by the majority of MEPs of the legal affairs committee on Tuesday, paving the way for a plenary vote on the file.

Protecting children’s rights

“With this vote, the Parliament stands behind the Commission in their aim of assuring that if you are a parent in a member state, you are a parent in all member states,” rapporteur Maria-Manuel Leitao-Marques said.

As family law falls under the competences of member states, parental rights differ across the Union and can currently be limited especially when it comes to children’s access to rights of succession, maintenance and education.

“A child may lose their parents, legally speaking, when they enter another member state,” the rapporteur said, adding that “this is an unacceptable status quo”.

Limiting the ‘public policy’ clause

The Parliament is pushing to limit a clause, included in the original proposal, which could allow EU countries to refuse to recognise parenthood established in another member state based on public policy concerns. According to MEPs, the clause should only be used exceptionally and each case should be examined individually.

MEPs fear that the clause could be used by some member states not to apply the proposed rules, limiting the rights of same-sex families in particular.

Countries’ opposition to the law

Several EU countries, including Hungary and Italy, oppose the law. Although the regulation clarifies that parenthood would continue to be established nationally, these countries see it as a way to impose the recognition of same-sex families or surrogacy at a national level.

Back in March, the far-right Italian government asked the Milan city council to stop the registration of the birth certificates of same-sex families’ children, a move which was then criticised by the majority of the European Parliament later that month.

Given the opposition of some member states to the file, it is not yet clear when EU countries in the Council will reach a common position.

*first published in: Euractiv.com

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