Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
Under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child, the best interests of children must be a primary consideration in situations that concern them. Every child has the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents unless that is contrary to his or her best interests. These assessments can only be carried out by the judicial authorities on a case-by-case basis.
In the situations described by the Honourable Member the Jugendamt applies German family law and not EC law. The Commission does not collect data on the application of national law by national authorities. EU family law relating to children is limited to common rules on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of existing judgments in another Member State. Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003(1) (‘the Brussels IIa Regulation’) represents the main EC law instrument in this area. The Central Authorities designated to assist with the application of this regulation meet regularly to discuss the practical application of the Brussels IIa Regulation. For these meetings the Central Authorities prepare activity reports and statistics on the application of the regulation which the Commission collects and makes available within the European Judicial Network in Civil and Commercial Matters. Neither the Brussels IIa Regulation nor the German implementing legislation attribute to the Jugendamt a particular role in the application of this legal instrument. The Commission monitors the correct application of the Brussels IIa Regulation in the Member States. If the Jugendamt were to apply the regulation, the Commission would carefully examine that its actions are in conformity with the fundamental rights defined in the Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in each case brought to its attention.
Under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Treaty on European Union, the European Union would not seem to have the power to set up a central European Family Law Authority as suggested by the Honourable Member.