As it becomes easier to live and work across the EU, the number of relationships involving people from different countries is rising and that raises concerns about issues such as what legislation applies to property and inheritance, which court deals with any problems and the recognition of legal decisions across borders.
In 2012 MEPs will consider a series of proposals covering judicial cooperation in civil affairs and setting criteria clarifying which legal system applies when more than one member state is concerned.
Eight million European live outside their country of origin, 2 ½ million properties are owned by people residing in other countries and 450,000 EU successions a year (around 10% or €123 billion) have a cross-border dimension. The European Certificate of Succession aims to make it easier to settle inheritances issues and avoid disputes by determining which court is competent and which law applicable.
It proposes that jurisdiction and law applicable to a cross-border succession is based on the deceased's habitual place of residence. But, those living abroad would be able to opt instead for the succession to be governed by the law of their country of origin. The aim is to reduce the risk that different member states issue contradictory decisions. The proposals should be voted in February.
Property of transnational couples
In March the EP will turn its attention to matrimonial property regimes and property consequences of registered partnerships for transnational couples, who can face difficulties particularly over dividing property in the case of separation or death. The aim is to ensure that all procedures related to the property are dealt with by a court in a single EU country.