Divorce looks set to become easier for international couples in Europe as the EU will enable them to choose which country’s laws should apply if they are to separate.
Under the new plans for enhanced cooperation, in which fourteen EU countries are planning to participate (with the possibility for more to join later), rules will also be laid down concerning which country’s law is to apply if the couple fails to agree on this in the first place.
The new proposals come in a bid to clamp down on cases where one spouse might rush to court to obtain a result where nationality or the place where the marriage took place gives them a greater advantage.
They also appear as an example of what international relations students know as “functional spillover” (to everyone else: the idea that integration in one field may create pressures for integration in another) as Europe-wide measures spread to affect private law.
Currently divorce is the issue of the day, but it really poses the question whether similar measures within the scope of private law might be thought of in the years to come.
Although the issue comes and goes, calls for a “European contract law” system might soon see the light of day. Ideas currently doing the rounds include a harmonised European system that parties entering agreements could opt in to use, and these are bound to create uproar sooner or later!
Interestingly too, with countries opting in and out to participate in enhanced cooperation, we may soon find ourselves in a multi-speed Europe before we even get to debate the concept again.
Nonetheless while marriage may be about love, divorce is about business. So why not facilitate this rather unpleasant business and aim to make it fairer for those who wish to do so?