Recognition of parenthood: MEPs want children to have equal rights  

Press Releases 
  • Parenthood established by an EU country should be automatically recognised across the EU 
  • Non-recognition only possible on strictly defined grounds and after individual assessment to prevent discrimination 
  • A new European Parenthood Certificate to cut cost and red tape 

Parliament supported on Thursday the recognition of parenthood across the EU, irrespective of how a child was conceived, born or the type of family they have.

With 366 votes against 145 and 23 abstentions, MEPs backed draft legislation to ensure that, when parenthood is established by an EU country, the rest of the member states will recognise it. The aim is to make sure that children enjoy the same rights under national law regarding education, healthcare, custody or succession.

No changes to national family laws

When it comes to establishment of parenthood at national level, member states will be able to decide whether to e.g. accept surrogacy, but they will be required to recognise parenthood established by another EU country irrespective of how the child was conceived, born or the type of family it has. Member states will have the option not to recognise parenthood if manifestly incompatible with their public policy, although this will only be possible in strictly defined cases. Each case will have to be considered individually to ensure there is no discrimination, e.g. against children of same sex parents.

European Certificate of Parenthood

MEPs also endorsed the introduction of the European Parenthood certificate, aimed at reducing red tape and facilitating recognition of parenthood in the EU. While it will not replace national documents, it can be used in their stead and it will be accessible in all EU languages and in electronic format.


“No child should be discriminated against because of the family they belong to or the way they were born. Currently, children may lose their parents, legally speaking, when they enter another member state. This is unacceptable. With this vote, we come closer to the goal of ensuring that if you are a parent in one member state, you are a parent in all member states,” said lead MEP Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques (S&D, PT) following the plenary vote.

Next steps

After having consulted the Parliament, EU governments will now decide - by unanimity - on the final version of the rules.


Two million children may currently face a situation in which their parents are not recognised as such in another member state. While EU law already requires parenthood to be recognised under a child’s EU rights, this is not the case for the child’s rights under national law. Parliament called for cross-border recognition of adoptions in 2017 and welcomed the Commission’s initiative in its 2022 resolution. The Commission proposal for a regulation aims to close the existing loopholes and ensure that all children can enjoy the same rights in each member state.