New Publication: What Family Law for Europe?

An article by Prof. Katharina Boele-Woelki, Dean of Bucerius Law School


Family law in Europe has undergone many changes in the past two decades, such as the enlargement of the EU, many revisions of national family law, the publication and in some countries the adoption of the Principles of European Family Law drafted by the Commission on European Family Law (CEFL), the adoption of European Regulations regulating cross-border family matters, the increasing use of the enhanced cooperation mechanism predominantly in the field of family law and the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights rendering new and trendsetting decisions which are contributing to the further harmonisation of family law in Europe.

This article explores first, who are the main actors and the driving forces of the unifying and harmonising process? Second, which ideals, moral concepts, standards and values should be decisive? Third, how do our family systems in Europe respond to the multicultural challenges which family relations of people with different beliefs and cultures are posing and fourth, how does the interaction between private international law and substantive law in family matters function? Here, the same-sex relationship are taken as an example. The final outlook into the further development of family law in Europe is based on the author’s personal experience as to how certain areas of family law have developed in the recent past and how they possibly will and should develop in the near future.

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