Extracts from the joint press conference by Viviane Reding and Cecilia Malmström on SWIFT
Press conference on SWIFT of the 24/04/2010.
Each year in the EU there are about 140,000 international couples who get divorced, which is around 19% of all separations. The crucial question is: which law applies in such cases? People need legal certainty in such difficult situations because this can determine which parent will get custody rights for children and how joint property will be divided.
To make life easier for international couples who are in the unfortunate situation of having to go through a divorce, the European Commission proposed a Regulation giving international couples the ability to choose which country's rules apply to their divorce or separation. Under the proposals:
Couples will have more legal certainty, predictability and flexibility.
Spouses and their children would be spared from complicated, drawn-out and painful procedures.
When couples from different countries want to separate, they need to know which law a court will apply for their divorce.
At the moment, the partner who can afford travel costs and legal fees can "rush to court" in another country so that the case is governed by a law that safeguards his interests. The proposals are thus designed to protect weaker spouses from disadvantaged in divorce proceedings.
The Commission originally proposed a Regulation on this subject in 2006 (the so-called Rome III proposal). The proposal never secured the required unanimity of Member States. Since then however, 10 EU countries said they would like to advance the proposal.
Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, has decided to use the so-called enhanced cooperation procedure to finally break the deadlock. This would be the first use of enhanced cooperation in the EU's history. The procedure requires the participation of at least nine EU-Member States. Other EU countries are free to join whenever they want. SHOTLIST