Ministers for Justice of Member States of the European Union (EU) met in Brussels on 3 December 2015 for the first part of the “Justice and Home Affairs” (JHA) Council, chaired by Félix Braz, Minister for Justice of Luxembourg, the Member State currently presiding the EU Council. While participants were able to reach an “agreement in principle” on the draft regulation on the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, they failed to agree on proposals concerning two Council regulations on jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions regarding matrimonial regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships.
This is a defeat for the Luxembourg Presidency, which had been very keen to get these proposals adopted. However, it soon became clear that the draft regulations had no chance to win the required unanimous approval of all Member States, given that they tacitly imply that Member States would have to legally recognize, and give effect to, marriages and civil partnerships that contradict their domestic public orders, in particular so-called same-sex “marriages”. This could then become a back-door for the EU to impose the legal recognition of same-sex “marriages” all over the EU, including those Member States that are determined not to allow the EU to impose on them a re-definition of marriage.
Currently 8 EU Member States have explicit provisions in their constitutional law to ensure that “marriage” (only) means the union between a man and a woman, thus ruling out the possibility of same-sex “marriages”. But with the proposal pushed by the Luxembourg Presidency, it would have become possible for same-sex couples from such countries to “marry” in countries such as Belgium or the Netherlands and then demand that those “marriages” be recognized in their home countries irrespective of the domestic public order.
The disingenuous assertions in a background paper distributed by the Luxembourg Presidency that the proposals “leave untouched the underlying institutions of marriage and partnership, which remain matters that are defined by the national laws of the member states”, and that “nothing in these regulations obliges member states to introduce the institution of registered partnership into their national law” failed to convince other Member States, in particular the always vigilant Poles and Hungarians. Bemoaning the outcome at at a press conference after the meeting, Mr. Braz finger-pointed these two Member States, saying that “the Polish and Hungarian positions have also caused some misunderstanding and are greatly disappointing for my colleagues”.
But the real reason for the failure is that the Polish and Hungarian delegations, reading between the lines, have understood perfectly well what the proposals were really aiming at.
Mr. Braz is now hoping that the controversial measures could be made the subject matter of a so-called “enhanced co-operation”, which does not involve all Member States.
This is a regrettable and unfitting attitude. In fact agreement would probably been easy to reach, were it not for the attempt of Luxembourg and some other countries to effectively hold the interests of decently married couples hostage in order to promote the highly controversial homo-agenda.
The rejection of the proposal also proves the point made by a new European Citizens’ Initiative called “Mum, Dad & Kids”, which is requesting that the EU should horizontally define “marriage” as a “union between a man and a woman”. On the basis of this definition, which reflects what can be seen as a common ground between all EU Member States, it should not be difficult to agree on co-operation regarding the the recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions on these matters.