EUFam’s II - Facilitating Cross-Border Family Life: Towards a Common European Understanding

To assess the effectiveness and the functioning of the instruments that regulate cross-border family law in the context of the EU judicial cooperation in civil matters and propose possible improvements, the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg − under the direction of Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Burkhard Hess and in partnership with the Universities of Heidelberg (coord.), Milan, Verona, Valencia, Osijek, and Lund − is partaking in the project, funded by the European Commission, 'EUFam's II: Facilitating Cross-Border Family Life: Towards a Common European Understanding".[1]

To meet the needs that originate from the progressively increasing migratory flows within the EU and from third countries, the European Union's system of private international law in family matters has gradually and significantly extended its material scope. In addition to Regulations on matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility, maintenance obligations, and successions, two Regulations were recently adopted implementing enhanced cooperation in matters of, respectively, matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships. Furthermore, a Regulation was adopted designed to simplify the requirements for cross-border use and acceptance of certain public documents in the European Union. Finally, among the international conventions that also play a pivotal role in this area of the law are the 2007 Hague Convention on International Recovery and the 2007 Hague Protocol on Maintenance Obligations.

These instruments regulate family law matters in an interconnected and yet fragmentary fashion. Their demarcation and relationship have become increasingly difficult to assess, notably as regards the determination of their respective scopes of application, the assessment of their interplay and actual workability, and the practical application of their provisions. Such fragmentation and the ensuing uncertainties may significantly affect the real family life situations of citizens, which are generally of a unitary nature.

The EUFam's II project aims to develop a common European expertise and understanding, and secure the uniform, coherent and consistent application of such instruments, to the benefit of the free movement of persons in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. This Project constitutes the continuation of the first EUFam's project,[2] from which it benefits while avoiding redundancies. By enabling, encouraging and strengthening the dialogue between judges, administrative officers, practitioners, and academics, EUFam's II will help identify the practical challenges by which these operators are confronted and will contribute towards workable solutions. In particular − through a combination of analytical, cooperative and comparative methods, mutual learning, and exchange of best practices − EUFam's II will consolidate and further develop the goals of EUFam's while adding, inter alia, the following aspects: i) enlargement of the material scope by including matrimonial property regimes, property consequences of registered partnerships, successions, and public documents; ii) enlargement of the number of persons from the target groups involved in the Project and expansion of the EUFam's network of judges, administrative officers, practitioners, and scholars; iii) analysis of the legal challenges arising, also in family law, from the current refugee crisis; iv) analysis of the potential impacts of Brexit on family law; v) enlargement of the Project's geographical scope by including Sweden.

In the Project's framework, several seminars will take place at the national level. In October 2019, the MPI Luxembourg will organize an International Exchange Seminar to address the difficulties met at the national level, share good practices and identify common patterns. Finally, an International Final Conference will be hosted by the University of Heidelberg in 2020 to mark the end of the Project and present its results.


[1] JUST-AG-2017/JUST-JCOO-AG-2017, 800780. The EUFam's II project is co-funded by the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers of the European Commission within the programme "Action grants to support transnational projects to promote judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters".

[2] JUST/2014/JCOO/AG/CIVI/7729. The EUFam's project was co-funded by the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers of the European Commission within the programme "Projects to support judicial cooperation in civil or criminal matters" (Justice Programme). The Project was concluded on 31.12.2017 and its research outputs are available at www.eufams.unimi.it.