Brussels IIbis recast

The European Commission today published the Proposal for the Brussels IIbis Recast and issued a press release.

There are no changes to jurisdiction in divorce matters, but quite a few significant ones on parental responsibility.

The Proposed Regulation clearly seeks to enhance children’s rights, referring explicitly to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (see recitals 13 and 23). It also introduces a separate provision on the obligation for courts to give children the opportunity to be heard (Art. 20).

Furthermore the Proposal aims to improve the efficacy of return proceedings after international parental child abduction. It requires Member States to concentrate the local jurisdiction for these procedures on a limited number of courts (Art. 22) and to limit the number of appeals to one (Art. 25(4)). It clarifies that the six-weeks time frame applies to each instance (Art. 23(1)). Courts will also have to  examine the possibility of mediation and agreed solutions without losing time (Art. 23(2)).

As expected, the Commission seeks to abolish exequatur proceedings for all parental responsibility cases (Art. 30). The proposal contains a mechanism to request the refusal of recognition or enforcement (Arts. 40-42). This is similar to the route eventually taken in Brussels Ibis (Regulation 1215/2012).

There are many other proposed changes, on issues such as provisional measures, cooperation, the resourcing of Central Authorities, the placement of children in another Member State and a better coordination with the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention, but I will leave the reader to discover them.

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