A Unified System of International Family Law in the European Union: Which Way Forward?

  • N. A. Baarsma


In Chapter 8 the future of the Europeanisation of international family law is discussed. The European Commission currently develops a common European system of international family law. According to the Hague Programme, instruments in the field of family law including divorce, maintenance, and matrimonial property should be completed by the year 2011. Moreover, also issues such as personal status, names and adoption have been mentioned as future areas of Union action in the field of private international law. From the failure to reach a compromise on the Brussels IIter-Proposal a number of lessons are drawn for future projects: the Member States should address the choice of law methodology and more transparency and coherence is required. A proper EU system of international family law will constitute a full part of European law, which has repercussions on its content. This does not only mean that the European doctrines of direct effect and primacy apply to EU private international law rules, but also that more specific political goals, such as the promotion of integration and the establishment of the area of freedom, security and justice, are pursued. Moreover, the EU legislature has to respect the legal diversity of the Member States. Due to the high number of objectives attached to the unified choice of law, the underlying choice of law methodology is characterised by a pluralism of methods, within which the principle of the closest connection is the point of departure. This latter principle joins the objectives of legal certainty, predictability and mutual trust. Furthermore, the principle of the closest connection ensures that the legal systems involved are evenly and equally eligible for application. More coherence is not only attained by the development of an EU choice of law methodology, but also by a uniform approach as regards the general doctrines of private international law, such as the public policy exception and characterisation.


Member State Legal Certainty Hague Convention Party Autonomy Maintenance Obligation 
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© T.M.C.ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the author 2011

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  • N. A. Baarsma

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