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Rome III Reg.: Council Adopts Decision Authorising Enhanced Cooperation on the Law Applicable to Divorce

On Monday, 12 July 2010, the Council adopted a decision authorising 14 Member States (Spain, Italy, Hungary, Luxembourg, Austria, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Belgium, Latvia, Malta and Portugal) to participate in the first enhanced cooperation in the history of the European Union, on the law applicable to divorce and legal separation (see the provisional version of the Council’s press release, doc. no. 12077/10, at p. 15).

As we reported in our previous posts, the initiative for an enhanced cooperation in the field originated in 2008, when the Council noted that there were insurmountable difficulties in reaching the required unanimity in order to adopt the Commission’s proposal amending the Brussels IIa Regulation and introducing rules concerning applicable law in matrimonial matters (Rome III reg.).

The first formal steps of the procedure are summarised as follows in Council document no. 10288/10 of 1 June 2010:

[…] Greece, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Luxembourg, Austria, Romania and Slovenia addressed a request to the Commission by letters dated 28 July 2008 indicating that they wished to establish enhanced cooperation between them in the area of applicable law in matrimonial matters and that they expected the Commission to submit a proposal to the Council to that end. Bulgaria addressed an identical request to the Commission by a letter dated 12 August 2008 and France by a letter dated 12 January 2009. On 3 March 2010, Greece withdrew its request. Germany, Belgium, Latvia and Malta joined the request by letters dated respectively 15 April 2010, 22 April 2010, 17 May 2010 and 31 May 2010. In total, thirteen Member States have thus requested enhanced cooperation.