Rome III Regulation Adopted by Council


As a Christmas gift for European PIL scholars, the first enhanced cooperation in the history of the EU has been achieved in the field of conflict of laws (on the origin of the initiative see our previous post here).

The Council, in its meeting of 20 December 2010, adopted the Rome III regulation implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the law applicable to divorce and legal separation (for previous steps of the procedure, see here and here). As of mid-2012 (18 months after its adoption, pursuant to Art. 21), the Rome III reg. will apply in the 14 Member States which have been authorised to participate in the enhanced cooperation by Council decision no. 2010/405/EU: Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia. Further Member States which wish to participate may do so in accordance with the second or third subparagraph of Article 331(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The text of the new regulation is available in Council doc. no. 17523/10 of 17 December 2010; after the signing of the President of the Council, it will be soon published in the Official Journal. The regulation is accompanied by a Declaration of the Council regarding the insertion of a provision on forum necessitatis in reg. no. 2201/2003, worded as follows:

The Council invites the Commission to submit at its earliest convenience to the Council and to the European Parliament a proposal for the amendment of Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 with the aim of providing a forum in those cases where the courts that have jurisdiction are all situated in Member States whose law either does not provide for divorce or does not deem the marriage in question valid for the purposes of divorce proceedings (forum necessitatis).

The European Parliament, merely consulted under the special legislative procedure provided by Art. 81(3) TFEU for measures concerning family law, gave its opinion on 15 December 2010 (informal contacts with the Council have ensured that the EP views were taken into account in the final text). In the preamble of the legislative resolution, the EP called “on the Commission to submit a proposal for amendment of Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003, limited to the addition of a clause on forum necessitatis, as a matter of great urgency before the promised general review of that Regulation”.

Many thanks to Federico Garau (Conflictus Legum blog) and to Marina Castellaneta for the tip-off.

2 replies
  1. Patrick Wautelet says:

    I am wondering how one should read the reference in article 10 of the Regulation to a law which does “not grant one of the spouses equal access to divorce or legal separation on grounds of their sex”. Should we read this as an invitation to make a global appraisal of the law at stake (which could mean that this law is denied application if one finds that one or the other form of divorce is exclusively reserved to the husband) or should we take a more narrow approach and look at the balance between man and woman in relation to the specific form of divorce the petitioner is seeking?

  2. Marta Requejo says:

    Judging from Spanish case law (though concerning recognition), I would vote for the second option. But, of course, art. 10 is about applicable law, in a Community instrument.

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