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Judicial rules and cooperation in family matters (recast of Brussels IIa Regulation)

Written by Hubert Dalli,

© Bacho/shutterstock

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission’s Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the above Commission proposal (the proposal), submitted on 30 June 2016 and referred to Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs.

The proposal is a recast of the Brussels IIa Regulation (the Regulation), which is ‘the cornerstone of judicial cooperation in family matters in the European Union’. The Regulation lays down jurisdiction rules in disputes regarding matrimonial matters (divorce, separation and annulment) and parental responsibility, where there is a cross-border element to such disputes, and lays down rules for the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgements between Member States. It also sets out the procedure to deal with cases of intra-EU parental child abduction.

The Commission carried out an evaluation of the Regulation within the framework of its REFIT programme. This evaluation consisted of (i) a report on the application of the Regulation as required by Article 65, (ii) an external evaluation study, (iii) an open public consultation, and (ii) surveys with central authorities and Member States.

The evaluation concluded that while overall the Regulation functions well and has achieved a satisfactory level of efficiency, a number of shortcomings have not allowed it to attain its full potential. Matters regarding parental responsibility are singled out as particularly in need of urgent action. The initiative was included in the Commission’s 2016 work programme.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Judicial rules and cooperation in family matters  (recast of Brussels IIa Regulation)‘.

Impact Assessment (SWD (2016)207, SWD (2016)208 (summary)) of a Commission proposal for a Council regulation on jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, and on international child abduction (recast) (COM(2016)411).


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