On 31 May 2023, the European Commission has proposed new rules aimed to ensure that the protection of adults is maintained in cross-border cases, and that their right to individual autonomy, including the freedom to make their own choices as regards their person and future arrangements is respected when they move within the EU.
The proposals, based on Article 81(2) TFEU, cover adults who, by reason of an impairment or insufficiency of their personal faculties, are not in a position to protect their own interests (e.g., due to an age-related disease).
Specifically, In the context of a growing cross-border mobility of people in the EU, this gives rise to numerous challenges. For instance, individuals concerned or their representatives may need to manage assets or real estate in another country, seek medical care abroad, or relocate to a different EU-country. In such cross-border situations, they often face complex and sometimes conflicting laws of Member States, leading to legal uncertainty and lengthy proceedings.
The proposed Regulation, which is meant to apply 18 months after its adoption, introduces a streamlined set of rules that will apply within the EU, in particular to establish which court has jurisdiction, which law is applicable, under what conditions a foreign measure or foreign powers of representation should be given effect and how authorities can cooperate. It also proposes a set of practical tools, including the introduction of a European Certificate of Representation, which will make it easier for representatives to prove their powers in another Member State.
The proposal for a Council Decision provides for a uniform legal framework for protecting adults involving non-EU countries. It obliges all Member States to become or remain parties to the 2000 Protection of Adults Convention in the interest of the Union. Once the Decision is adopted, the Member States that are not yet party to the Convention will have 2 years to join it. Actually, some Member States have already launched their own ratification process, with the latest to announce (or re-announce) such a move being Italy, just a few days ago.
The approach underlying the package – in short, ensuring that the Hague Adults Convention enters into force for all Member States, and adopting a Regulation aimed to strengthen the operation of the Convention in the relations between Member States – reflects the suggestions that were put forward, inter alia, by the European Law Institute and the European Association of Private International Law, notably through a position paper issued in April last year.
Further analysis of the two proposals will be provided through this blog in the coming weeks.