Parliamentary questions
18 June 2015
Question for oral answer O-000078/2015
to the Commission
Rule 128
Peter Jahr, Tadeusz Zwiefka, Mairead McGuinness, Roberta Metsola, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, on behalf of the PPE Group

 Subject: Protecting the best interests of the child (across borders) in Europe

Having regard to rising public concern as manifested by an increasing number of petitions addressed to Parliament, can the Commission take a position on the following issues:

1. 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? 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?

2. 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 for EU Member State social workers, judges and police forces on relevant legislative instruments and case law?

3. Is the Commission considering encouraging the 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?

4. Is the Commission planning to promote the idea of a fast-track procedure for child-related cases in legal proceedings in the Member States’ courts as well as in cases brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union?

5. Is the Commission aware of the concerns of some Member States about adoption practices in other Member States (adoption without parental consent) which impact 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 interests of the child are guaranteed?

6. 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?

7. Would the Commission consider setting up a judicial training initiative especially aimed at cross-border child-related cases under the existing judicial training programme?

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