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Recognition and enforcement of decisions on parental responsibility
To extend the scope of Regulation EC No 1347/2000 to decisions on matters of parental responsibility concerning children, regardless of the nature of the relationship between the parents (married or not); to protect the child's best interests by giving practical expression to its fundamental right to maintain a personal relationship with both parents.
Proposal for a Council Regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in matters of parental responsibility [COM(2001) 505 final - Official Journal C 332 E of 27.11.2001].
Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000.
At the Tampere European Council, the Member States agreed that the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions was fundamental to the creation of a genuine area of justice. In the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters, this principle found expression in two developments in the course of 2000: Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 and the French initiative aimed at abolishing exequatur for visiting rights.
The present proposal would apply to all decisions on matters of parental responsibility other than maintenance obligations, which are covered by Regulation (EC) No 44/2001.
The proposal begins by defining a number of key terms, such as "court", "holder of parental responsibility" and "Member State". The Commission then proposes that, in the interests of the child, jurisdiction be given to the courts of the country in which the child has its habitual residence. Such jurisdiction will be exercised in accordance with The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Special rules are laid down for cases of wrongful removal or retention of a child.
If it is not possible to determine the child's habitual residence, the Commission suggests that:
- the courts of the Member State where the child is present should have jurisdiction;
- failing all else, jurisdiction should be determined in each Member State by the laws of that State.
The proposal seeks to give the courts of the Member States the power:
- to take provisional measures in urgent cases to protect the best interests of the child;
- to make practical arrangements for organising the exercise of parental responsibility if the necessary arrangements have not been made by the Member State having jurisdiction as to the substance of the matter;
- to declare of its own motion that it has no jurisdiction under the Regulation when another Member State has jurisdiction;
- to check that the respondent has received the document instituting the proceedings or an equivalent document in sufficient time if the respondent does not appear in person;
- to transfer the case to the courts of another Member State under certain circumstances (e.g. at the request of one of the parents, in the best interests of the child).
Judgements given in a Member State will be recognised and enforced in the other Member States in accordance with the relevant provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000.
Each Member State is to designate a central authority:
- to assist the national courts with the application of the Regulation;
- to strengthen cooperation between courts;
- to collect information on national legislation and procedures;
- to ensure the effective exercise of the child's rights.
The central authorities may use the services of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters. In addition, the Commission will be able to convene meetings with the central authorities.
Special rules are laid down for Member State which have two or more systems of law or sets of rules on matters governed by the Regulation.
Within three months of the entry into force of the Regulation, Member States must communicate to the Commission the names and addresses of the central authorities and a list of courts and redress procedures.
Consultation procedure CNS/2001/0204
On 6 June 2002 the Commission presented a communication to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee. The communication aims at officially withdrawing the proposal of 6 September 2001.