MEPs propose recognition of parenthood in the EU


The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) has proposed a new legislation to facilitate the recognition of parenthood across all EU countries. This legislation aims to strengthen children’s fundamental rights, reduce red tape, increase legal certainty, and apply to both minors and adults.

The new legislation proposes limiting the possibility of EU countries refusing to recognise parenthood established in another member state based on public policy concerns. Currently, about two million children may face a situation where their parents are not recognised as such in another member state. Although EU law requires parenthood to be recognised under a child’s EU rights, this is not the case under national law.

In 2017, Parliament called for cross-border recognition of adoptions. In 2022, the Commission proposed a regulation to close the existing loopholes and ensure that all children in the EU enjoy the same rights. The proposed regulation will help maintain and strengthen children’s fundamental rights, both minors’ and adults’, and reduce costs and red tape.

Parenthood established nationally, recognised across EU

The proposed law allows for recognising parenthood established in one EU country to ensure children have the same rights under national law in another member state, including custody, maintenance, or succession rights. Even though parenthood would continue to be established nationally, member states would have to recognise it as such, regardless of how the child was conceived, born or the type of family it has.

Protection of same-sex parents from discrimination

MEPs agreed that the proposal’s exception, enabling countries not to recognise parenthood if it is manifestly incompatible with their public policy, should not lead to discrimination against children of same-sex parents. They supported the proposed list of grounds for refusal to ensure that public policy reasons could only be used in exceptional circumstances and each case should be considered individually. 

In addition, they propose that, in cases where national authorities oppose recognition, the established parenthood should remain in place until all national and EU legal remedies have been exhausted and a final decision on the exception has been delivered.

European Certificate of Parenthood and digital access

The new rules clarify the jurisdiction and applicable law in cross-border parenthood disputes within the European Union. A European Parenthood Certificate (EPC), available in all official EU languages, will be introduced. The EPC will not replace national documents but can be used alongside them. It will be available in both paper and electronic formats and will be issued within two weeks of the request. 

Additionally, MEPs propose a European electronic access point to enable accessible communication with authorities and suggest using videoconferencing in legal proceedings to enhance accessibility.

“Currently, a family might be subject to different laws in different member states to determine the parenthood of a child. This means that children may lose their parents, legally speaking, when entering another member state,” said rapporteur Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques (S&D, PT). “This puts them at significant risk, as they do not have guaranteed access to rights related to succession, maintenance, and education. The current legal landscape affects rainbow families in particular, as unfortunately not all EU countries recognise the parent-child relation of LGBTIQ+ families. This is an unacceptable status quo. With this vote, the Parliament stands behind the Commission in its aim of ensuring that if you are a parent in one member state, you are a parent in all member states,” added the rapporteur.

After Parliament’s plenary votes on the file, the final decision on the legislation will be taken by member states, as family law falls under national powers.

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