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Strasbourg, 13 December 2011

Statement by Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner, on Child Abduction

"Preventing child abduction is an essential part of the EU’s policy to promote the rights of the child. I welcome the initiative of the European Parliament Mediator for International parental child abduction.

Within the EU, the Brussels IIa Regulation imposes strict obligations to ensure the return of the child.

With this Regulation, the courts in the EU Member State to which the child has been abducted shall not refuse an order to return a child to the Member State of origin.

Data collected recently show that the Regulation works well. Of course, it does not resolve 100% of cases – and we all have in mind individual dramatic cases. However, if you look at the big picture, child abduction disputes between EU Member States are solved in a much more efficient and swift manner.

For instance, with the Brussels IIa Regulation, we have removed the very cumbersome procedure known as exequatur. This means a shorter period for courts to recognise and enforce judgements from another Member.

For EU citizens, the Hague Convention applies to families where one parent comes from a third country.

All EU Member States are Convention members. In my contact with third countries' leaders, I actively promote membership to the Convention.

I am very pleased that the number of countries that have ratified the convention is gradually rising. Recently, an important milestone was reached when Russia acceded to the Convention in July. Other countries such as Japan, Morocco, Albania or Singapore – just to name of few – indicated their intention to become parties to the Convention."

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