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The principle of the best interest of the child should be paramount also in cross-border custody disputes, abduction cases and international adoption, MEPs on the Petitions Committee said on Monday backing a draft resolution.

In the draft resolution, which comes ahead of an upcoming review of the Brussels IIa regulation on recognition and enforcement of family law, MEPs give recommendations on how to close legislative gaps and improve cooperation in the best interest of the child.

Safeguarding the right of the child in judicial proceedings

Member states should designate specialised chambers within family courts or cross-border mediation bodies to deal with cross-border child related cases, MEPs say.

Minimum standards should be established for the hearing of a child in national civil proceedings setting thresholds for the duration of each stage in cross-border childcare proceedings to ensure the parents time to address their problems or family members to come forward.

MEPs stress that children have the right to maintain regular and direct contact with their parents. EU countries should therefore guarantee regular visitation rights to parents while judicial proceedings are ongoing and to allow them to use their own mother tongue with their children during the visits.

However, MEPs recommend separate hearings of parents and children before a judge, an expert or a social service worker in order to avoid that children are influenced or fall victim to loyalty conflicts.

International adoption should be a last resort

Adoptions or any kind of foster arrangements should give the child the best possibility to maintain links with the child's cultural background and to learn and use their mother tongue, MEPs stress. They call on member states to make all efforts possible to avoid siblings being separated and to support parents, and in particular mothers, in order to avoid children being removed.

MEPs call on the EU countries to encourage member states which have not yet signed the Hague Convention on the protection of children to do so. Member states and the Commission should also regulate to ensure that domestic adoptions are recognised by the other EU countries.

Next steps


The vote in Plenary has been requested for the April II session.