On 30 June 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation amending Regulation 2201/2003/EC (Brussels IIa) concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility.
The amendments to the existing legislative framework should relate in particular to the efficiency of procedures in the event of cross-border abductions of children by one of the parents. The time limits applied to the various stages of the procedure for returning a child are limited to a maximum period of 18 weeks, of which no more than six weeks may be dedicated to the processing of the request by the central authority, six weeks for the court of first instance and six weeks for the appeal court.
As regards the decision on return, there is only one possibility for appeal and the judge must examine whether a decision ordering the child’s return should be provisionally enforceable. Cases of parental abduction should also be examined by a limited number of courts, so that judges acquire the necessary experience.
The Commission’s proposal also emphasises that care should be taken that the child is heard and can express its opinion in all proceedings concerning the child. The child should have the opportunity to express its opinion regarding custody and visiting rights, and in the context of return proceedings when there has been an abduction by one of the parents.
The enforcement decision should also be quicker in the Member States with the withdrawal of the exequatur procedure. This is an interim procedure required with a view to enforcing a decision in another country. If enforcement has not taken place after six weeks, the court shall inform the requesting central authority in the Member State of origin, or the applicant directly, of the reason justifying this failure to enforce within the time limit.
The proposal must now be adopted unanimously by the Council according to the special legislative procedure for judicial cooperation in family matters. The European Parliament will only be consulted.
The proposal for a regulation is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/civil/files/family-matters/brussels2_regulation_en.pdf
The Regulation 2201/2003/EC is available here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02003R2201-20050301&qid=1467299584879&from=EN