Brussels, 7 June 2012
European Commission plans to ease legal burden for cross-border successions to become law
Today, the Commission's proposal to simplify the settlement of international successions received the final backing of the Council of Justice Ministers of the EU. The European Commission proposals will ease the legal burden when a family member with property in another EU country passes away. Once published in the EU's Official Journal – which is expected to take place within weeks – Member States will have 3 years to align their national laws so that the new EU rules on succession become effective.
"Around 12.3 million Europeans live in another EU country and there are around 450,000 international successions each year, valued at more than €120 billion. Currently different rules on jurisdiction and applicable law in the 27 EU Member States are creating legal headaches for already grieving families," said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, the Commission’s Vice-President. "Today's endorsement by the Council of new EU rules will bring legal certainty to the thousands of families confronted with international successions."
Today's decision will lead to a substantial simplification of the settlement of international successions by providing a single criterion for determining both the jurisdiction and the law applicable to a cross-border succession: the deceased's habitual place of residence. It will also permit citizens to plan their succession in advance in full legal certainty. The approval also paves the way for the introduction of the European Certificate of Succession, which will allow people to prove that they are heirs or administrators of a succession without further formalities throughout the EU. This will represent a considerable improvement from the current situation in which people sometimes have great difficulty exercising their rights. The result will be faster and cheaper procedures.
On 14 October 2009, the Commission proposed a Regulation to simplify the settlement of international successions (see IP/09/1508). Under the Regulation, there will be a single criterion for determining both the jurisdiction of the authorities and the law applicable to a cross-border succession: the deceased's habitual place of residence. People living abroad will, however, be able to opt to have the law of their country of nationality apply to the entirety of their succession.
The European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee and the European Parliament plenary voted on a report on the draft legislation in March 2012 (see IP/12/209).
For more information
European Commission – Family matters and successions:
Justice Directorate General Newsroom:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner: