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Article | Global News Briefs

European Union: Proposed pan-EU recognition of parenthood

By Valentina Rocchi | February 27, 2024

European Union lawmakers support a proposal to recognize parental rights across all EU member states in an effort to protect the interests of children.
Health and Benefits|Benessere integrato|Inclusion-and-Diversity

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The European Parliament has voted to support a draft European Union (EU) Regulation to ensure that if a parent-child relationship between specific individuals is legally recognized in any EU member state then it is automatically legally recognized in all EU member states (excluding Denmark and possibly Ireland [1]). The next step in the legislative process, which may be a challenge, is for all of the member states concerned to develop and unanimously agree on the final version of the regulation. The European Commission estimates that “two million children may currently face a situation in which the recognition of their parenthood as established in one member state is not recognized for all purposes in another member state.” EU law already requires that all member states recognize parenthood established in another member state for the purposes of EU law (e.g., the free movement of citizens), but such required recognition of parenthood does not apply to other matters.

Key details

Under the draft regulation:

  • All EU member states (except Denmark and possibly Ireland) would be required to recognize parenthood established by another EU member state irrespective of how the child was conceived, born or the type of family it has, and also irrespective of the nationality of the child and its parents. Strictly defined exceptions would be possible, but each case would have to be considered individually to ensure there is no discrimination (e.g., against children of same-sex parents).
  • To facilitate such intra-EU recognition, a European Parenthood Certificate would be introduced.
  • Recognition by an EU member state of parenthood established by a non-EU country would continue to be governed by the national law within the member state.
  • Member states would not be required to change their national legislation regarding the types of parent-child relationships generally recognized within the country.

Employer implications

If finalized and adopted in its current form, employers may face issues related to coverage under benefit plans and family leave programs as well as employee mobility. The European Commission has stated that the primary consideration of the proposal is the “best interests of the child,” but it’s not clear whether there’s any broad consensus among EU governments on what that constitutes. Accordingly, unanimous approval of the regulation, if it happens, is expected to be slow.


  1. Denmark and Ireland have opt-outs from Title V of Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on the areas of freedom, security and justice. Under the protocols to the treaty, legal matters adopted on justice (such as this one) automatically do not apply to Denmark. The protocols for Ireland are more flexible and allow it to choose whether or not to adopt the measure; however, the Irish government has yet to indicate its position on this matter. Return to article

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