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23 MAR 2011

European Commission publishes proposals on matrimonial property rights

EU flagThe European Commission has published proposals on EU-wide rules to bring legal clarity to the property rights for married international couples and for registered partnerships with an international dimension.

The Commission is proposing two separate Regulations: one to implement the rules for married couples and the other for registered partnerships. The Regulations would help identify which law applies to a couple's property rights and the responsible court. The Regulations also provide for rules for recognising and enforcing court judgments on a couple's property in all EU Member States through a single procedure.

The proposals are the next step following the agreement last year on EU legislation to determine which country's rules apply in cross-border divorce cases. There are around 16 million international couples in Europe, and every year at least 650,000 of them face cross-border family law problems when their marriage or partnership comes to an end.

The proposals are intended to increase predictability for international couples by smoothing out the process for recognising judgments, decisions and deeds throughout the EU. The Commission says couples will save an average of €2,000 to €3,000 per case as a result of them being able to group several legal proceedings into one court action.

Presenting the proposals in Brussels, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "We want to build bridges between Europe's different systems to ease the daily lives of international couples, but our intention is not to create uniformity where social and legal traditions still vary widely and will continue to vary widely for the foreseeable future.

"Increasingly, registered partnerships are being introduced by national legislation. This is why the European Commission decided today not only to address the private international law aspects of international married couples, but also to enhance legal certainty to registered partnerships with an international dimension, with the first ever proposal for an EU regulation on registered partnerships."

The plans still require the unanimous approval by the Council of Ministers and consultation by the European Parliament.

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