Press release: It will soon be possible to recover maintenance claims more swiftly throughout Europe
- date of issue
On the subject of the decision of the Bundesrat not to raise any objections to the Federal Government’s bill implementing the EU Maintenance Regulation, Germany’s Federal Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, explains:
This decision of Bundesrat means that the implementing act can enter into force on time on 18 June 2011. As of that date, the EU Maintenance Regulation will be applicable. This Regulation makes it easier for children and other persons entitled to maintenance to enforce maintenance claims throughout Europe. Europe's citizens will be able to draw tangible benefits from the European Area of Justice, for example: a German mother will be able to directly instruct a French bailiff to enforce a German maintenance order in France against the person obliged to pay maintenance. Thus, in future, it will be possible to enforce German maintenance titles directly in nearly all EU Member States.
In the past, a maintenance order could not be enforced in a foreign country until it had been declared admissible for compulsory enforcement in the state of enforcement; this approval procedure has in principle been abolished by the new Maintenance Regulation.
Further more, the Maintenance Regulation provides for enhanced cross-border cooperation between Member State authorities in order to facilitate the international enforcement and recovery of maintenance claims. To this end, all Member States except Denmark are establishing central authorities that will work closely together in dealing with cross-border maintenance disputes. Citizens entitled to maintenance therefore do not need to approach foreign authorities – whose language they often do not even understand – themselves when they need assistance. Instead, they can contact the Central Authority of their own state. The Central Authority will then provide assistance, for example in determining the whereabouts of the maintenance debtor. In Germany, the Central Authority for European maintenance disputes is the Federal Office of Justice in Bonn.
Experience has shown that it is the costs that may be incurred, in particular, that deter maintenance creditors from recovering their maintenance claims abroad. The Regulation therefore removes financial obstacles in order to ensure the effective and inexpensive assertion of maintenance claims. For example, the assistance is provided by the Central Authority free of charge. If maintenance creditors need additional legal assistance, they can, under certain conditions, be granted legal aid.