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Sharon Bowles, Liberal Democrat MEP for South East England, is launching a campaign to gain equal recognition of UK civil partnerships in other EU Member States that also have same-sex partnership legislation.
Currently UK civil partnerships are not consistently recognised by other Member States. France for instance, though acknowledging them, does not give them the full status of their own 'pacte civil de solidarité' (PACS). A consequence of this is that there is no exemption from inheritance tax in France for a surviving partner in a UK civil partnership.
Several couples who have purchased property in France have suffered as a consequence, with the surviving partner finding themselves liable to inheritance tax and having to sell up at a time of bereavement. In contrast, the UK recognises French civil partnerships on a full and equal basis to UK partnerships, including exemption from inheritance tax.
"I see no reason for France and other Member States not to recognise civil partnerships on an equal basis. Several of my constituents have written to me concerning inheritance tax on property jointly owned in France. I am also aware several other MEPs have also received similar correspondence," said Ms Bowles.
"The campaign I am launching endeavours to raise awareness of the issues surrounding civil partnerships across Europe. I personally raised this issue with the French Justice Minister, Rachida Dati, in June, both in the context of the French situation and also in view of their term in office as President of the European Council.
"Additionally, I have drafted a written declaration, with the participation of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Europe. The declaration calls for Member States with existing same-sex partnership legislation to recognise the arrangements of other Member States that have also made provisions for same-sex partnerships, and also calls upon the Commission to draw up guidelines for such mutual recognition by Member States with existing same-sex partnership legislation".