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The EU legal framework does not provide EU-wide legal protection for the families of same-sex partners. There are still EU Member States where registering same-sex partnerships is not possible. (1.)
The lack of tolerance and legal protection of people and families due to their sexual orientation runs contrary to EU values. It also carries high human and economic costs for the EU. Such policies lead to involuntary migration: LGBTIQ people and same-sex couples leave to form families in countries where their families are legally protected.
To ensure the equality of EU citizens, the EU could create a legally binding arrangement of automatic mutual recognition of partnerships and marriages of (rainbow) families within the EU.
Implementing this fundamental right throughout the EU will promote feelings of fairness, dignity, and equality among EU citizens. It will provide better opportunities for a wider range of EU citizens.
There are diverse arguments against the recognition of the families of same-sex partners. For example, the Catholic Church maintains the view that marriage is exclusively a union between a man and a woman. (2.)
- Pope Francis responds to dubia submitted by five cardinals, https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2023-10/pope-francis-responds-to-dubia-of-five-cardinals.html
Should the obligation of double military duty be removed for EU citizens who hold the citizenship of two EU Member States?
An increasing number of European citizens hold dual citizenship in two EU Member States. Due to the growing geopolitical strain and Russia's unjustified war in Ukraine, some European countries are reintroducing or activating military service for their citizens. The rules of military service vary from country to country. Holders of dual EU citizenship may be subject to military service in two different EU Member States.
This could allow European citizens holding dual citizenship to choose to fulfil the military service requirements in one EU Member State. By doing so, they can contribute to ensuring the Union’s defence capabilities while devoting the rest of their time and efforts to strengthening Europe’s economy, innovation capacities, and civic resilience, just like other EU citizens.
It can also be argued that dual citizenship entails double privilege and hence warrants requiring a commensurate commitment to civic duties imposed by both countries.
All EU Member States are part of the Bologna Process, which seeks to bring more coherence to higher education systems across Europe. However, graduates of higher education institutions still face lengthy recognition procedures for their qualifications and have to pay related costs. This also causes uncertainty as to whether their qualification will be valid in another EU Member State where they wish to work or continue their studies.
Since 2021, Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg) and the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) have agreed on the automatic mutual recognition of professional qualifications. (1.) This means that anyone who has earned a higher education degree covered by the Treaty in one of these countries is guaranteed that the level of their degree will be automatically recognized in the other countries. Such automatic arrangements should be extended across the EU.
This measure will facilitate a more competitive job market in the EU and remove cumbersome administrative procedures for individuals. Graduates – mobile Europeans – will avoid lengthy recognition procedures and related costs when working or studying in another EU Member State.
A uniform standard of higher education has not yet been achieved in the EU. Although all EU Member States are part of the Bologna Process, the award of academic degrees is a national prerogative and there are traditional differences that have not been overcome.
Should the EU propose free movement legislation requiring all Member States to recognise same-sex partners from another Member State?
The above question is about whether the EU should propose free movement and ordinary-procedure legislation (with Article 21(2) TFEU as the main legal basis) requiring all Member States to recognise same-sex spouses and registered partners from another Member State. (1.)
'Rainbow families' – same-sex couples with or without children – still face many obstacles while exercising their free movement rights in the EU. (2.) Some Member States fail to recognise same-sex couples (whether married, registered, or unregistered), who have come to their territory from another Member State as couples. In many cases, when crossing the border between EU Member States, the couple ceases to be legally a couple, becoming instead two unrelated individuals. Moreover, their child(ren) goes from having two legal parents to only one or no legal parent at all. (3.)
Apart from the emotional significance of the continued recognition of legal relationships, it is important from a practical and legal perspective. This is the only way that persons can have legal obligations towards each other and can claim rights arising from these obligations. (3.) Implementing this fundamental right throughout the EU will promote feelings of fairness, dignity, and equality among EU citizens.
As same-sex partners and their marriage are still a sensitive issue, placing these regulations on individual Member States from the EU level could be used by populists to influence local politics adversely and alienate countries from the EU.
- This is based on a recommendation on page 3 in this report: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2021/671505/IPOL_STU(2021)671505(SUM01)_EN.pdf
Should the EU have dedicated funding opportunities for civil society organisations that represent mobile EU citizens?
Many mobile EU citizens (diaspora) assemble in civil society organisations - diaspora associations. These associations help mobile EU citizens to maintain their linguistic and cultural heritage and to strengthen their civic participation. They also facilitate cooperation with the country of citizenship or heritage of mobile EU citizens - all while they are settling in the host country and enriching its cultural diversity.
Yet the EU tends to overlook their contribution to European civic space and instead focuses on supporting civil society organisations working transnationally. This makes it difficult for diaspora associations to attract EU funding for their core tasks.
Tailored funding programmes for European diaspora associations would acknowledge the importance of diversity for EU integration, and strengthen these organisations and their contribution to the European civic space. This would be a particularly important support for diaspora associations that assemble expats who are not supportive of Euro-sceptic policies of governments of their country of EU nationality.
Mobile EU citizens have to exchange their driving licence if: (1.)
- their licence is lost, stolen or damaged,
- (in some Member States:) after 2 years of residence, if they have a driving licence with an indefinite validity period,
- they commit a traffic offence in the country of residence.
At the same time, mobile EU citizens are still confronted with inconsistencies between national approaches to renewing or replacing driving licences issued in another EU country. This affects their driving rights. (2.)
To simplify the recognition of driving licences between EU Member States, the European Commission has proposed the introduction of a digital driving licence. The proposal will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council. (2.)
The digital driving licence will be easier to replace, renew, or exchange since all procedures will be online. It will also be easier for citizens from non-EU countries with comparable road safety standards to exchange their driving licence for an EU one. (2.)
The European Data Protection Supervisor seems to imply that there might be a risk of improper sharing of personal data if an EU-wide digital driving licence is introduced. The Supervisor has reacted to the European Commission’s proposal to introduce a digital driving licence valid throughout the EU by stressing that “access to driving licence data by public authorities should be properly defined and limited to what is strictly necessary and proportionate”. (3.)