On 15 July 2015 Adoption without Consent was on the agenda of the Petitions Committee for Dr Claire Fenton-Glynn had been commissioned to write an ‘expert’ report. I published my Battle News from Brussels on my most popular blog Victims Unite and reblogged it on Punishment without Crime, the blog about the issue of Forced Adoptions.
On the occasion I met the key people to take the issue forward:
- Peter Jahr MEP who has already been on fact finding missions to Germany and Denmark and had attended the Round Table at the Slovak Embassy – together with Mairead McGuinness MEP
- and Mina Petrucci the Policy Advisor of his political group European People’s Party (Christian Democrats).
They signed these questions for the EU Commission (the administration to ensure the enforcement of EU Law):
Having regard to rising public concern as manifested by an increasing number of petitions addressed to the European Parliament, would the Commission take a position on the following issues:
- In light of the upcoming review of the Brussels II Regulation, could the Commission clarify in which direction it will propose modifications? Is the Commission envisaging the abolition of current procedural and bureaucratic obstacles in child custody proceedings? Finally, will the Commission propose changes in order to bring more clarity to the definition of habitual residence (Article 15), which is a major connecting factor in international abduction cases?
- Will the Commission consider the introduction of common standards for the hearing of a child during civil proceedings across Member States? Furthermore, will the Commission facilitate dialogue and sharing of best-practices between the different stakeholders involved, such as the provision of assistance and training of EU Member State social workers, judges and police forces on relevant legislative instruments and case law?
- Does the Commission consider encouraging EU Member States to designate specialised family courts dealing with international cases of child abduction with cross-border elements, thus ensuring that the process becomes more efficient with effective and swift returns? Would the Commission consider setting up a network of those courts and relevant authorities to facilitate smooth cooperation and an exchange of best practices?
- Is the Commission planning to promote the idea of a fast-track procedure for children-related cases in legal proceedings in the EU Member States’ courts as well as in cases brought before the CJEU?
- Is the Commission aware of the concerns of some Member States about adoption practices in other Member States (adoption without parental consent) which impacts on the children/families of those who move to Member States where these practices occur? Will the Commission gather information on this issue with a view to ensuring that the best interest of the child is guaranteed?
- Could the Commission elaborate on whether it plans to strengthen European-wide initiatives specifically aimed at launching a web portal in which relevant legal information on the Member States adoption procedures, as well as the relevant authorities and institutions to turn to in cases of cross-border abductions are listed in a clear and accessible way?
- Would the Commission consider setting up a judicial training initiative especially aimed at cross border child related cases under the existing judicial training programme?
They also formulated these questions for the EU Council (the heads of state):
Having regard to rising public concern as manifested by an increasing number of petitions addressed to the European Parliament, would the Council take a position on the following issues:
- In view of Article 81 of the TFEU on judicial cooperation in civil matters, does the Council intend to streamline principles and guidelines linked to cooperation in cross-border matters dealing with children, such as ensuring the preservation of family unity when this is possible before a child is placed for adoption and always taking into consideration the best interest of the child? If so, does the Council envisage enhancing cooperation in this field to include these streamlined principles and guidelines to also apply in cases that do not involve cross-border matters?
- Would the Council be willing to facilitate dialogue and the sharing of best-practices with regard to the development of policies that support families in need to enable them to raise their children and prevent children being taken into care and placed for adoption?
- Is the Council envisaging the monitoring and coordination with respect to the functioning of the children welfare services across the EU Member States, focusing specifically on adoption practices dealing with cross-border cases, in order to ensure that the best interest of the child is preserved while respecting divergent cultural and social traditions across the EU?
- Would the Council, in compliance with the Hague Convention, consider designating specialised family courts dealing with cross-border cases of child abduction, in order to ensure coherence and a swift return procedure in such cross-border cases and to encourage the exchange of best practices between those courts.
- Could the Council elaborate on whether it would support any potential Commission-led European-wide initiative aimed at launching a web portal in which relevant legal information on the Member States adoption procedures, as well as the relevant authorities and institutions to turn to in cases of cross-border abductions are listed in a clear and accessible way.