On 25 November 2020, French Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Gilles Lebreton of the Identity and Democracy Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 and Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 (Brussels IIA) are aimed at combating international child abduction.
Germany, however, in the form of its child welfare services (Jugendamt), continues to refuse to apply the contents of these texts reliably and takes a highly questionable view of the best interests of ‘its’ children in its territory following an abduction.
Parliament expressed its concern about this in a resolution of 29 November 2018.
During a debate in the JURI Committee on 16 November 2020, the invited expert confirmed, in answer to my question, that Germany was the most reluctant of the European countries to apply the terms of the Convention.
On the same day I learned that a court in Düsseldorf had just refused to return a Franco-German child to its French father, reasoning that France was a danger zone in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So it seems that any excuse is valid in condoning child abduction.
What action will the Commission take to persuade Germany to improve its compliance with international and European commitments in the matter of child abductions, both in a general sense and more particularly in this landmark case in Düsseldorf?”
On 25 January 2021, Vice-President Šuica responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission constantly monitors the application of the Brussels IIa regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 in all Member States.
On 17 November 2020, the Commission discussed, among other issues, the enforcement of return decisions in cases of parental child abduction and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on effective enforcement with the Member States in the meeting of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters. In this context, the Commission stressed the importance of efficient and speedy enforcement in matters involving children.
A table on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the field of civil justice, including child abductions, was published on the e-Justice Portal in April 2020, a month after the outbreak.
It is the responsibility of the national judicial authorities to apply the relevant national, EU or international law, including the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child in the light of the factual situation of each individual case. Member States have to ensure that in all actions relating to children the best interests of the child are a primary consideration.
The individual case referred to in the question has not been brought to the Commission’s attention, and currently the Commission does not have grounds to take any specific contacts with Germany.”
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