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Property regimes for international couples in Europe

New rules apply in 18 Member States

The EU Regulations clarifying the rules applicable to property regimes for international married couples or registered partnerships apply as 29 January 2019.

The regulations aim to establish clear rules in cases of divorce or death. They bring an end to parallel and possibly conflicting proceedings in various Member States, for instance on property or bank accounts. In short, it should bring more legal clarity for international couples.

First Vice-President Timmermans said:

"The entry into application of these regulations is good news for the growing number of international couples in Europe. This is about giving certainty to thousands of European couples about what happens to their property if they divorce or one of them dies. I am confident that these regulations will help many European couples manage such difficult times."

Vera Jourová, EU Justice Commissioner said:

"These new rules will make it easier and cheaper to divide joint assets and provide some relief to people in difficult circumstances. More than 16 million international couples will benefit from clear procedures in case of divorce or death of a partner. They will be able to save around €350 million each year in legal costs. I encourage the remaining Member States to join the enhanced cooperation for the sake of all international couples across the EU."

As it was not possible to reach unanimity among all Member States, the rules will apply in eighteen Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The new regulations will:

The eighteen Member States that joined the enhanced cooperation make up seventy per cent of the EU population and represent the majority of international couples who live in the European Union. Those Member States adopted the Regulations in June 2016 under enhanced cooperation. The remaining Member States can join both Regulations any time.

The non-participating Member States will continue applying their national law (including their rules on private international law) to cross-border situations relating to matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships. 

For a factsheet, click here. For the regulation in respect of married couples, click here. For the regulation in respect of registered partnerships, click here.