AlphabiolabsBerkeley Lifford Hall Accountancy ServicesHousing Law Week

18 EU countries agree to clarify rules on property regimes for international couples

United Kingdom is not participating

On 9 June 2016, 18 member states (not including the United Kingdom) of the European Union reached a general approach on two regulations aimed at determining the rules applicable to property regimes for married couples or registered partners in cross-border situations (i.e. couples of different EU nationalities and/or who own properties in another EU member state).

The regulations aim to determine which court will have jurisdiction and which law will be applicable in matters of matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships. They will also facilitate the recognition and enforcement of decisions in cross-border situations on these matters. They will establish clear rules on applicable law in case of divorce or death, bringing greater legal certainty and putting an end to parallel and possibly conflicting proceedings in various member states.

The eighteen member states participating in the enhanced cooperation are Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden. Other member states are free to join at any time after its adoption. In this respect, Estonia announced its intention to take part in the cooperation after its adoption.

The regulations leave untouched the underlying institutions of marriages and partnerships, which remain matters that are defined by the national laws of the member states. They also include a series of safeguards in order to respect national legal systems. For example, nothing obliges participating member states whose law does not recognise the institution of registered partnership to provide for it, nor to assume jurisdiction for such partnerships.

Following the adoption of this general approach, the European Parliament will give its opinion on the texts in the course of the month. Consequently, the regulations will be formally adopted by the 18 participating member states. This formal adoption is expected at the end of June 2016.

The regulation in respect of married couples is here. That in respect of registered partnerships is here.