The Parliament of the European Union has voted in support of recognising legal parenthood across the EU, backing draft legislation published by the European Commission (see BioNews 1172).
EU countries have different rules about recognising legal parenthood of children born to same-sex couples, and other families created through surrogacy or using gamete donation. This means that a child-parent relationship may be legally recognised in the country of birth, but not if the family or its members move to another member state. Currently, around two million children could be affected if their parents moved country.
'Currently, a family might be subject to different laws in different member states to determine the parenthood of a child' said MEP Maria-Manuel Leitão-Marques. 'This means that children may lose their parents, legally speaking, when entering another member state. This puts them at significant risk, as they do not have guaranteed access to rights related to succession, maintenance and education'.
Under the proposed law, member states will not have to grant legal parenthood to LGBT+ families, or to families created through surrogacy. However they would have to recognise legal parenthood that was already established in another EU jurisdiction.
It will be possible for member states to refuse to recognise parenthood established in another state based on public policy concerns. In such instances, this law specifies that this must not be based on discrimination, can only happen exceptionally and each case will be considered individually.
The bill passed by 366 votes against 145, and the governments of member states now need to agree the final version before it becomes law. Reaching agreement may be difficult as the governments of some member states, such as Italy (see BioNews 1184) and Poland (see BioNews 1172) are strongly opposed to recognising nontraditional families.
These concerns were voiced by MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen, who told Christian Network Europe that under the proposed law 'member states are forced to recognise parental relationships that they consider inappropriate based on their considerations, such as surrogacy'.
The EU Parliament also affirmed the Commission's aim to introduce a European Parenthood Certificate (EPC), available in all the EU official languages, to facilitate the recognition of parenthood.
All children should have the same rights irrespective of how they were conceived or born and of their type of family,' said EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders, who presented the Comission's proposal in 2022.