European lawmakers back recognition of parental rights across the EU

European Parliament. By Diliff - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

European Parliament members have come together to agree on a proposed EU regulation ensuring parental rights are recognised across the EU independently from how a child is born.

It follows the proposal of a law by the European Commission last December aimed at making sure that parental links established in one member state are recognised in other EU countries and introduce a European parenthood certificate.

This new regulation would guarantee all families, including ‘rainbow families’ whose parent-child relations are not currently recognised in all member states, to maintain their parental rights when moving across the Union. The proposed legislation was supported this week by the majority of MEPs of the legal affairs committee, clearing the way for a vote.

With 14 votes against 4 and no abstentions, the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) adopted its opinion on draft legislation facilitating the recognition of parenthood across the EU. Its aim is to maintain and strengthen children’s fundamental rights, both minors and adults, increase legal certainty and reduce costs and red tape.

Protecting children’s rights

Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques, the designated ‘rapporteur’ – effectively spokesperson – for the European Parliament on this particular issue, said: “Currently, a family might be subject to different laws in different member states to determine the parenthood of a child. This means that children may lose their parents, legally speaking, when entering another member state. This puts them at significant risk, as they do not have guaranteed access to rights related to succession, maintenance and education.

The current legal landscape affects rainbow families in particular, as unfortunately not all EU countries recognise the parent-child relation of LGBTIQ+ families. This is an unacceptable status quo. With this vote, the Parliament stands behind the Commission in its aim of ensuring that if you are a parent in one member state, you are a parent in all member states.”

The European Parliament says that two million children may currently face a situation in which their parents are not recognised as such in another member state. While EU law already requires parenthood to be recognised under a child’s EU rights, this is not the case for the child’s rights under national law.

‘An unacceptable status quo’

Parliament called for cross-border recognition of adoptions in 2017 and in its 2022 resolution welcomed the Commission’s initiative. The Commission proposal for a regulation aims to close the existing loopholes and ensure that all children in the EU can enjoy the same rights.

Parliament is pushing to limit a clause, included in the original proposal, which could allow EU countries to refuse to recognise parenthood established in another member state based on public policy concerns. According to MEPs, the clause should only be used exceptionally and each case should be examined individually.

MEPs fear that the clause could be used by some member states not to apply the proposed rules, limiting the rights of same-sex families in particular.

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Author: Simon Weedy

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