Contribution of Association Society and Values to the European Commission Roadmap on Cross-border family situations Recognition of parenthood

Association Society and Value unites tens of thousands of Bulgarian citizens to protect and promote human dignity and freedom, marriage and family since 2007.

We are deeply concerned about the guidelines the European Commission (EC) has published in the Roadmap for “regulation on the recognition of parenthood between Member States”. If the measures proposed by the EC are adopted, this will lead to a redefinition of marriage, parenthood and to rough violations of human dignity and the best interests of the child throughout the European Union (EU).

The imposed measures are a gross interference with the family law and the legal status of persons who, under the EU Treaties, fall entirely within the competence of the Member States. The European Commission inception impact assessment confirms this fact.

The right to free movement cannot be used to oblige Member States to adopt legislation that is contrary to our Constitutions and the principle of subsidiarity. 

In Bulgaria, as in other EU Member States, marriage is defined as a union between man and woman. The Constitution connects parenthood with the father and the mother, with the binary understanding of gender, as male and female, related to the biological sex.

Parenting is not a “right”, but a gift and responsibility that is built on accepting the child and respecting his/her best interests. Not every couple has a child, but every child has a father and a mother. Every child is a human being with its own rights, including the right to have and know his/her mother and father. The EU should respect it. Ignoring these facts undermines the best interests of the child and will have serious consequences for the EU’s legal harmony.

At the international level, the definition of parenthood is based upon the Art. 7 of the International Convention of the Rights of the Child – the two parents of the child. All EU legislation must fall under this binding definition. The term “parents” can only be interpreted as referring to the father and the mother of the child, “according to the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms”. 

One often used reason for a new legislation on cross-border families is that children born from parents of two different Member States would then become stateless, if parenthood is not established in the same way in both countries. This is not true as the child always holds a civil registration and is granted a country of birth and a country of residence.

Moreover the proposal to recognize parenthood in EU will lead to the recognition of surrogacy, which is banned in many Member States.

The practice of surrogacy does not respect the rights and the human dignity of the children and it turns them into a commodity. It undermines the child’s right to know his/her origin and to develop a family identity. A child born after a surrogacy agreement is deliberately placed in a situation of planned abandonment by his biological mother, as well as potentially by his two genetic parents, which has negative consequences in the future. Surrogacy undermines women’s human dignity, turning their bodies into a commodity and an object of exploitation.

The EU cannot and must not be used as an instrument in favor of the desire for parenthood, at the expense of the rights of the children and the women.

Such measures, which are alien to domestic legal systems, are contrary to the EU Treaty and the principle of subsidiarity. They disrupt democratic processes, create tensions and lead to regulatory chaos and interference in the competence of Member States on these issues.

If Member States are forced to recognize parenthood established abroad they will not be able to maintain their legal provisions and definitions on matters of marriage, family and parenthood.

In this regard, we call on the EC to respect the national competence of the Member States with regard to marriage, the family and parenthood and to withdraw the foregoing controversial draft regulation.

​Association Society and Values
Sofia, 12.05.2021

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