Justice and Home Affairs : Law Applicable in Divorce Cases Causes a Stir in Parliament
The European Commission's proposal on the law applicable in divorce cases will not be getting an easy ride through the European Parliament. That became clear with the first exchange of views by the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on 24 January, which saw a stormy debate and a request by the rapporteur for more time before tabling her report.
The Commission presented on 17 July 2006 a proposal for a regulation aimed at determining the law applicable when a mixed nationality couple (Franco-Belgian, for example), or one residing in another country, decides to divorce. The proposed regulation comprises two stages: couples would be allowed to choose the law applicable, but if such a choice has not been made when the case is brought to court, the regulation would harmonise the procedure for determining which law applies.
The proposals are controversial. The first questions raised by MEPs included: How to deal with homosexual couples (whose marriages are recognised in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain)? What about PACS' (civil solidarity partnership) couples? And what about cohabitant couples? Rapporteur Evelyne Gebhardt (PES, Germany) confirmed that "These questions are serious and must be clarified by the Commission: the scope of the text mustbe clearly defined."
Another controversial aspect is the range of choices from which couples may choose. …