Here is a draft letter in response to the European Commission’s Green Paper on 'Less bureaucracy for citizens: promoting free movement of public documents and recognition of the effects of civil status records', which you can copy and paste.
Please don’t forget to state your full name and address at the end of the letter.
Sent the letter to the following address by April 30 2011:
European Commission?Directorate-General for Justice?Unit A1 – Judicial Cooperation in Civil Matters?B-1049 Brussels?Fax No: + 32-2/299 64.57
Dear European Commission,
in response to the European Commission’s Green Paper on 'Less bureaucracy for citizens: promoting free movement of public documents and recognition of the effects of civil status records' I think there is a need for EU action to provide Europeans with greater legal certainty in relation to civil status matters and to remove the obstacles which they face when asking for a legal situation created in one Member State to be recognised in another.
Several practical problems arising in the daily lives of citizens in cross-border situations could be solved by facilitating recognition of the effects of civil status records legally established in other EU Member States.
In a majority of EU countries (17 out of 27) gay couples can celebrate their permanent unions or regulate their cohabitation. This takes different forms, including full marriage equality, civil partnerships, or regulation of cohabitation rights. Due to the economic interconnectedness of the EU countries, the phenomenon of same-sex couples needing to relocate to another country that does not recognise their union has become widespread.
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights makes it clear that “the right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights”. However, there are at least four articles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights that the current fragmentation of gay rights in Europe violates:
Article 9: everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life
Article 15: every citizen of the Union has the freedom to seek employment, to work, to exercise the right of establishment and to provide services in any Member State
Article 24.3: every child shall have 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 interests
Article 33: the family shall enjoy legal, economic and social protection
Furthermore, the Treaty of the European Union (amended most recently by the Lisbon Treaty) states:
Article 3.2: The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured (…)
This right is not currently fully respected for people in civil partnerships or same-sex marriages: if they move to seek work in other countries of the European Union, they may end up losing their rights if their partnership is not recognized. This can be particularly serious if one of the partners becomes ill or dies, or in case of a dispute over property, for example.
For this reason, while a call for regulation of gay partnerships in the whole of the EU would be desirable but beyond its competences, focusing on one relatively small issue like the mutual recognition of all types of unions, may be a more achievable first-step. This said, the history of the European Union has been marked by a series of relatively small steps towards integration that have led to inevitable further integration. Our effort toward this specific single-issue campaign is moved by the awareness that this is a starting point and not just a final goal.
The Stockholm Programme
Section 2.3 of the Stockholm Programme specifies that measures to fight discrimination and homophobia should “be vigorously pursued”. Moreover, section 3.1.2 highlights how “mutual recognition should be extended to fields that are essential to everyday life, e.g. […] matrimonial property rights”. There is therefore a favourable legal and political framework within which to place a campaign for the recognition of all forms of partnerships across the EU.
Please don’t forget to state your full name and your address here