On 15 May 2014, the Conseil Supérieur du Notariat français and the Société de Législation Comparée held a colloquium on the “Mobility and Protection of Vulnerable Adults in Europe: knowledge and recognition of instruments”. The event brought together legal practitioners, associations concerned by this topic and representatives of the notariats from across the European Union.
Among the presentations, university academic Cyril Nourissat dealt with aspects of private international law, including the provisions of the Convention of 13 January 2000 on the international protection of adults. University academic David Noguéro then highlighted the need for France to equip itself with a register quickly to guarantee publication of enduring powers of attorney. The Austrian and German protection systems were also presented.
Ms Patrizia De Luca, for the European Commission, gave details of the measures the EU had already taken: 2020 European strategy in favour of people with disabilities, 2000 anti-discrimination directive, directive against age discrimination currently under negotiation, United Nations Convention signed in 2007, Daphné co-funding programme, etc. Moreover, as the Commission cannot negotiate the EU joining the Convention, Ms Luca called on the Member States to ratify the text.
The Notaries of Europe’s Vulnerable Adults in Europe website was then presented to the audience. Online since March, the website has been available in Spanish since only recently. An extension is planned for the beginning of 2015 with the provision of factsheets on the protection of minors.
For Mr Jean Tarrade, president of the CSN, in his introduction to the colloquium, the question of vulnerable adults is now unavoidable in the European Union: "Protecting the most fragile is a now a major issue for all States and their political decision-makers. Old age, illness and disability can make any citizen vulnerable”. He backed up his remarks with figures from the Council of Europe:
- 80 to 120 million European citizens have some form disability.
- In 2050, 37% of the European population will be over 60.
- 10% of the population will be over 80.
Mr Tarrade therefore considered it essential to “encourage European cooperation on this subject by training and informing individuals and professionals, developing specific tools (creating and interconnecting registers, etc.). Our final aim must be to enable vulnerable adults to move freely within the European Union like any other citizen, whilst allowing them to keep the benefit of the protection they need”.
Mr Tarrade concluded with a discreet appeal to the European institutions for political action: “the need to encourage the recognition and enforcement of decisions taken in relation to adults who are the subject of protection measures is also a pillar of the human right to move freely: this means creating safe mechanisms with the possibility for the Member States to share information on the protection status of a vulnerable adult”.
Vulnerable Adults in Europe website: www.vulnerable-adults-europe.eu