Case law Developments in PIL

February 2021 at the Court of Justice of the European Union

February starts with a hearing on 4 February in a PPU case. C-603/20 PPU MCP is a preliminary reference from the High Court of Justice, Family Division (United Kingdom), filed on November 2020 (that much for Brexit…), on the interpretation of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003. The facts concern two Indian citizens habitually resident in the United Kingdom who share the parental responsibility for P, a British citizen aged three, born in the UK. P has been living in India since October 2018, when the mother took him there fleeing from (alleged) domestic violence. There has been no contact between the father and P since 2018.

The mother did not seise the English courts before removing P to India, nor did she obtain the consent of the father. On 26 November 2019, she seised the Family Court at Chelmsford for ‘permission to change jurisdiction of the child’. On 26 August 2020, the father filed an application in the High Court requesting in essence the return of the child to the UK. On 6 November 2020, the High Court (Family Division) addressed the issue of jurisdiction and determined that the English courts could not base jurisdiction neither on Article 8 on Article 12(3) of the Brussels IIa Regulation. Having doubts as to whether Article 10 of the Regulation applies where a child is wrongfully removed to or retained in a third country, it referred the following question for a preliminary ruling:

Does Article 10 of Brussels 2 retain jurisdiction, without limit of time, in a member state if a child habitually resident in that member state was wrongfully removed to (or retained in) a non-member state where she, following such removal (or retention), in due course became habitually resident?

The case is allocated to a chamber of five judges, with E. Regan as reporting judge. A. Rantos is the advocate general in charge.

The Opinion of AG Bobek in case C-800/19, reported in this blog some days ago, will be delivered on 23 February.

Finally, the judgment in C-804/19 Markt24 will be published on 24 February. The blog had informed about the questions referred here. The Opinion by AG Oe, of October 29, 2020, is not available in English. My tentative translation would be:

  1. A claim for payment of the remuneration agreed in an employment contract, filed by a worker domiciled in a Member State against an employer domiciled in another Member State, falls within the scope of Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012 (…) and, more specifically, section 5 of its chapter II, even when the worker has not, in practice, performed any work in compliance with the contract in question.
  2. Regulation No. 1215/2012 precludes the application of the rules on jurisdiction established by the national law of the court seised, enabling an employee to bring an action in the place where his domicile or habitual residence is located during the employment relationship, or before the court in the place where the remuneration is to be paid.
  3. When a employee and an employer have entered into an employment contract and, for whatever reason, no performance has been made in practice in compliance with that contract, ‘the place where or from where the employee habitually carries out his work’, within the meaning of Article 21, paragraph 1, letter b), subparagraph i), of Regulation No. 1215/2012, will coincide, in principle, with the workplace agreed in the aforementioned contract.

Although not directly related to PIL, I would like to draw the readers’ attention also to case C-490/20 Stolichna obshtina, Rayon “Pancharevo”. Hearing is taking place on 9 February. The questions referred by Administrativen sad Sofia-grad (Bulgaria) are:

Must Article 20 TFEU and Article 21 TFEU and Articles 7, 24 and 45 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union be interpreted as meaning that the Bulgarian administrative authorities to which an application for a document certifying the birth of a child of Bulgarian nationality in another Member State of the EU was submitted, which had been certified by way of a Spanish birth certificate in which two persons of the female sex are registered as mothers without specifying whether one of them, and if so, which of them, is the child’s biological mother, are not permitted to refuse to issue a Bulgarian birth certificate on the grounds that the applicant refuses to state which of them is the child’s biological mother?

Must Article 4(2) TEU and Article 9 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union be interpreted as meaning that respect for the national identity and constitutional identity of the Member States of the European Union means that those Member States have a broad discretion as regards the rules for establishing parentage? Specifically:

–    Must Art. 4(2) TEU be interpreted as allowing Member State to request information on the biological parentage of the child?

–    Must Article 4(2) TEU in conjunction with Article 7 and Article 24(2) of the Charter be interpreted as meaning that it is essential to strike a balance of interests between, on the one hand, the national identity and constitutional identity of a Member State and, on the other hand, the best interests of the child, having regard to the fact that, at the present time, there is neither a consensus as regards values nor, in legal terms, a consensus about the possibility of registering as parents on a birth certificate persons of the same sex without providing further details of whether one of them, and if so, which of them, is the child’s biological parent? If this question is answered in the affirmative, how could that balance of interests be achieved in concrete terms?

Is the answer to Question 1 affected by the legal consequences of Brexit in that one of the mothers listed on the birth certificate issued in another Member State is a UK national whereas the other mother is a national of an EU Member State, having regard in particular to the fact that the refusal to issue a Bulgarian birth certificate for the child constitutes an obstacle to the issue of an identity document for the child by an EU Member State and, as a result, may impede the unlimited exercise of her rights as an EU citizen?

If the first question is answered in the affirmative: does EU law, in particular the principle of effectiveness, oblige the competent national authorities to derogate from the model birth certificate which forms part of the applicable national law?

This will be (not surprisingly) a Grand Chamber decision.

Senior research fellow MPI Luxembourg (on leave) Legal secretary at the CJEU Full Professor PIL, University of La Laguna (Spain)

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