26th Sep 2020

Belgium loses integration case

The European Court of Justice has today (2 October) ruled in favour of a Spanish citizen living in Belgium who wanted his children registered both under the father and mother's name - according to Spanish custom.

Under Belgian law, children may only take the name of their father and so the Belgian state refused citing the integration of foreigners into Belgian culture as a defence.

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However, the ECJ found this argument insufficient.

The father, who is Spanish is married to a Belgian national and their two children have dual nationality. The couple wanted to make a clear link between the mother and the children by giving them her name as a second name.

Also, the couple wanted to avoid practical difficulties for the children by having different surnames in Belgium and in Spain, when both the name of the mother and father are permitted.

The Court found that the case falls under EU competence, under the article of the Treaty concerning the citizenship of the EU.

The Court also made it clear that although the rules regarding person's name are in the competence of the Member States, a State - in this case Belgium- should, however, respect Community law.

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