Brussels wants to strengthen cross-border rights of parents and children

Access to the comments Comments
By Aida Sanchez Alonso
Children smile and look in awe as the Grinch drives down State Street in the 2022 Bristol Christmas Parade, Dec. 1, 2022 in Bristol, Va.
Children smile and look in awe as the Grinch drives down State Street in the 2022 Bristol Christmas Parade, Dec. 1, 2022 in Bristol, Va.   -   Copyright  Emily Ball/Bristol Herald Courier via AP

The European Commission has announced plans for parenthood to be recognised across the EU, without having to engage in extra legal procedures.

If enacted, the plans would represent a big step forward for the rights of LGBTI couples and their children, potentially benefitting up to two million children, according to the European Commission.

It will only apply to children whose parenthood is already established by an EU country and will be irrespective of how the child was conceived or born, irrespective of the type of family and irrespective of the nationality of the children or their parents.

But Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice said the rules will not go too far, given that the EU cannot legislate on same-sex marriage.

"We don't want to change the national competence about the definition of the family and the organisation of the family. We just [want] to protect the rights of the child," Reynders told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday. 

"If there's a recognition in one member state they should have the same recognition in all. And not only for the free movement but for different kinds of rights."

To do so, the European Commission is proposing the harmonisation of numerous national laws, as well as the creation of a voluntary certificate of parenthood.

Going on holiday, moving countries or simply going to the doctor would also be much easier for many families, according to Katrin Hugendubel, a policy director at ILGA Europe.

"If you're not legally recognised as a parent you're not allowed to travel with the child, allowed to cross a border. Kindergartens when picking up the children ask for a legal recognition that you're a parent and also in emergency medical situations," Hugendubel told Euronews.

"If you're not recognised as the parent you're not allowed to make important decisions about the medical treatment of the child or be allowed to stay with the child at the hospital. So there are very real life problems and I would say really urgent problems that parents might face when going on holiday and making a decision on where to live."

Negotiations on the proposals are likely to be lengthy, however, given that six EU countries - Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland and Slovenia - do not have same-sex legal unions and could oppose the plans.