Friday

16th Nov 2018

Two-speed Europe may emerge over divorce rules

  • Some 170,000 out of the 845,000 divorces annually in the EU involve couples of different nationalities (Photo: European Commission)

In the face of long-lasting deadlock, a group of nine EU states have decided to take the unprecedented path of closer co-operation and apply common rules for divorce between couples of different European nationality.

A Friday (25 July) debate between EU justice ministers once again demonstrated that the 27-nation bloc was unable to introduce pan-European rules allowing mixed-nationality couples a certain degree of autonomy in choosing the court and applicable law in case of divorce.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia and Spain have teamed up in order to formally request the European Commission launch the so-called enhanced co-operation mechanism - allowing a group of countries to move ahead in one particular area, even though other states are opposed.

It is expected that they will make the request on Monday (28 July), one diplomat told the EUobserver. It is the first time such a move has been made.

It will then be up to the commission to make a legal proposal based on the request. This proposal will then go back to member states where it needs to be approved by a qualified majority of governments.

A controversial and politically sensitive issue anyway, this route for dealing with the divorce question has further irked some capitals because, under normal procedures, a decision in this area would have to be taken by unanimity.

Reacting to the move by the nine member states, EU justice commissioner Jacques Barrot said: "The commission will have to examine all the political, legal and practical implications of such an enhanced co-operation."

"We need to get a clearer idea," he added.

Currently, some 170,000 out of the 845,000 divorces annually in the EU involve couples of different nationalities.

"With free movement, it is surely reassuring for [couples] to know that when something were to happen and they break up then they will have the same rights and they will be protected wherever they are in the EU," French justice minister Rachida Dati said.

Under the foreseen rules, if a Czech-German couple living in Belgium decide to divorce, spouses would be allowed to choose the competent court and the law to apply to their case. Should they fail to agree, the couple would be automatically referred to a court in Belgium, their place of residence.

Malta and Sweden are widely considered the most reluctant to give the go-ahead to a EU-wide divorce scheme.

Strongly Catholic Malta does not recognise divorce, while Stockholm fears that EU harmonisation in the area could threaten its liberal family law.

Should the pioneering group achieve closer cooperation in this area, the mechanism must remain open to other countries as well. Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Lithuania are also believed to be considering joining the initiative.

Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources

Romania's data protection authority is headed by Ancuta Gianina Opre, who in 2017 was charged with abuse of office in her previous job. Last week, she threatened a €20m fine against journalists in their effort to uncover corruption.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

Romania 'using EU data protection law to silence journalists'

An award-winning journalism outlet in Romania is being threatened with fines by the country's data protection authorities - for having disclosed connections, on Facebook, of powerful politicians and a firm embroiled in scandal.

Visual Data

Asylum seekers appealing returns must get own travel documents

The European Commission wants to increase the return rates of rejected asylum seekers, following pressure from EU states. But the reforms proposed seek to increase detention, and put people who are appealing their decisions at risk.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us