MEPs call for automatic cross-border recognition of adoptions 

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To protect adopted children’s best interests, MEPs have urged the EU Commission to require all EU countries to recognise each other’s adoption certificates automatically. Their resolution, voted on Thursday, proposes a European Certificate of Adoption to speed up the automatic recognition process.

The resolution asks the Commission to propose rules on automatic EU-wide recognition of “domestic” adoptions, i.e. in cases where the adopters and the adopted child are resident in the same country. While the Hague Convention requires automatic recognition of adoptions in all its signatory countries, including all EU member states, it applies only to cases in which the parents and the adopted child are from two different countries.

European certificate and best practice guidelines


MEPs suggest creating a European Certificate of Adoption to speed up the automatic recognition process of “domestic” adoption certificates EU-wide. They also call for common minimum standards to be drawn up for adoption, not in the form of legislation but rather to define “best practice” guidelines.

Rapporteur Tadeusz Zwiefka, (EPP, PL) commented that “Every adoption should be carried out in the best interests of the child, taking the specific circumstances of each case into account. As the adoption should give the child a loving, caring and stable environment, we call on the European Commission to take steps in the field of recognition of domestic adoption certificates, so that families with adopted kids have legal certainty when moving to another member state.”

Remove administrative hurdles

Families with adopted children from their own country still face legal and administrative hurdles when moving from one EU member state to another. For example, parents might be unable to arrange for the education or medical treatment of their adopted child unless additional legal steps are taken to demonstrate that they have custody.

The resolution was passed by 533 votes to 41, with 72 abstentions. The Commission will not be obliged to follow the Parliament’s recommendations, but must state its reasons if it refuses.

This resolution concerns only the individual parent-child relationship. So it does not oblige member states to recognise any particular legal relationship between the parents of an adopted child.

For more details, see the Background Note.  

Procedure:  Legislative initiative procedure (INL)