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Brussels, 6 June 2008

EU encourages adoption of common international rules on parental responsibility and child protection.

European Ministers of Justice facilitate Member States' application of Hague Convention of 19 October 1996 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition, enforcement and cooperation in respect of parental responsibility and measures for the protection of children

Vice-President Jacques Barrot expressed his satisfaction: "This is an important step towards unified rules at an international level on the protection of minors and their property, and towards better cooperation between States with the continuing goal of promoting the best interests of the child".

This convention makes a significant contribution to facilitating the handling of the situation of minors on an international level; in particular, it provides for rules on the competence of national administrative and judicial authorities to take measures relating to child protection, and sets rules for determining the applicable law.

The convention incorporates the objectives of current and planned Community instruments, the principles on which these instruments are founded and the inter-State cooperation methods that they envisage.

The principles used by the convention for determining which authorities are competent to establish a minor's situation (i.e. as a rule the authorities of the State in which the child is habitually resident) are perfectly compatible with the principles of Council Regulation No 2201/2003, known as the Brussels II bis Regulation, which has been applicable since 1 March 2005 in all Member States with the exception of Denmark, which is not bound by this decision.

The same applies to wrongful removal of minors, movement and mutual recognition of judicial decisions, and cooperation between the central authorities in each State responsible for promoting cooperation.

Specific provision has been made for combining application of the two instruments, with the Community instrument retaining primacy.

In this way the Community, which cannot itself accede to the 1996 Convention, is urging Member States to apply the rules set out in the convention not only between themselves, but also in their relations with countries outside the EU. The Ministers' decision should thus enable common rules on child protection to be applied beyond the EU's borders, and should reinforce the affirmation of common principles on parental responsibility at the international level, for the best interests of the child.

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