Thursday

28th Jul 2016

Divorce rules could divide EU states

  • International divorces amount to some 20 percent of all divorces taking place in the EU each year. (Photo: European Commission)

Nine EU states are getting ready to reinforce their legal co-operation at the EU level by agreeing a common divorce law, by-passing Sweden's veto and posing questions about a "two-speed Europe."

France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Romania are set to implement the so-called enhanced co-operation procedure, while other countries - including Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Lithuania - are also currently considering joining the initiative, according to the AFP news agency.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

If the nine countries go ahead, it will be the first time the legal mechanism - allowing a minimum of eight EU states to present the European Commission with a demand for "enhanced co-operation" - will have been activated.

Provided that the commission accepts the move, it then has to be approved by a qualified majority of the bloc's 27 member states.

Enhanced co-operation is seen as one of the ways to avoid EU-wide paralysis, which may increasingly come into play if the EU fails to quickly overcome the Irish No vote and implement the new Lisbon treaty.

But critics of the procedure say that it would lead to a "two-speed Europe."

"Enhanced co-operation is a very sensitive issue because it has never been implemented. It allows several member states to go forward faster than others, and it is not necessarily the image we want to give of the EU," a source from the French EU presidency is quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

EU countries have for a long time failed to agree on common rules on divorce between couples of different European nationality.

Under the proposal, currently blocked by Sweden - which would prefer to keep its own liberal national law - the couples would be able to choose which country's law to apply for their divorce proceedings.

If they cannot agree, their joint connection to a country - notably related to the time of residence - determines which country's courts would deal with the divorce case.

Divorce rules currently vary strongly within the EU, with Nordic countries being traditionally more liberal and predominantly Catholic countries being more conservative in the matter.

Malta does not permit divorce at all.

The enhanced co-operation measure will be discussed during a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Brussels on Friday (25 July).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  2. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  3. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  4. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  5. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  6. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  10. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  11. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  12. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company