Free movement: European Parliament calls for respect of succession rights

Today the European Parliament adopted a resolution to ensure national laws on successions are respected throughout the European Union. The Parliament said this new European law must respect the existing rights of same-sex spouses and partners.

Kurt LECHNER MEPDrafted by Kurt Lechner MEP, the report on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession was adopted with a wide majority in the European Parliament today.

According to recital (24), Member States who do not recognise same-sex unions will not be allowed to reject succession decisions that are legal under Member States that do. The text explains that

the courts or other competent authorities should not be able to apply the public-policy exception in order to set aside the law of another State or to refuse to recognise , or, as the case may be, accept, or enforce a decision, an authentic instrument, or a court settlementfrom another Member State when doing so would be contrary to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Article 21, which prohibits all forms of discrimination.

The text does not create any new marriage rights in the European Union, and still allows Member States to decide whether or not they recognise same-sex unions on their territory.

Under this regulation, a Spanish citizen married to an Italian of the same-sex under Spanish law could inherit his or her possessions in Italy, even though Italy does not recognise same-sex marriage.

Commenting on the adoption of the text, Dennis de Jong MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup in the European Parliament, commented: “Free movement will only become a full reality when all couples can move across the European Union without worrying about their children, their families, their estate, and one another.”

“Death is a terrible moment, and we must make sure the dignity of same-sex partners is protected, even beyond their life.”

Eva Lichtenberger MEP, responsible for the report on behalf of the Greens/EFA group, added: “We are very pleased the European Parliament stands by EU values of equality and non-discrimination in the field of succession. The Rapporteur, Kurt Lechner, also stands firmly by this position and will make sure European governments do not allow discrimination.”

The text is proposed according to the ordinary legislative procedure, in which the European Parliament has an equal say to European governments. This text was the European Parliament’s first reading out of potentially three readings.

However, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Denmark have opted out of this type of legislation.