Monday, April 23, 2007

EU proposal to bring Sharia divorce law to Europe

Luxembourg (dpa) - A European Union proposal that would allow the laws of non-EU countries to be applicable in divorce cases ran into fierce opposition from Sweden on Thursday.

Liberal Sweden strongly resists the plan, which it says could force EU member states to dissolve marriages on the basis of foreign law, including traditional Islamic law, or Sharia.

"It is not acceptable that the planned rules would lead to Swedish courts having to apply foreign law," a Swedish diplomat told reporters at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

Germany is pushing for new rules under which international couples, prior to marriage, would be able to set out in a contract which country's laws will reign in a divorce court.

Germany currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

The planned rules would mean that, for example, a Swedish-Italian couple living in Paris could divorce in a French court, which would create a settlement in accordance with Swedish, Italian or French marriage law.

Such an option is currently impossible in the 27 nations of the EU, making divorces a lengthy and unpredictable procedure.

Some 170,000 out of 875,000 divorces annually now involve couples of different nationalities, according to EU data.

Other member states are wary of the proposal because of the recognition of same-sex marriage. Full marriage is available for gay couples in Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.

In a concession to Malta, the only EU country which does not allow divorce, the current blueprint states that new rules would not impose divorce on any member state.

EU ministers agreed to further discuss under which preconditions and to what extent national courts would be able to apply foreign law.

Savage article here.

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