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C 135/40 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 14.5.


(1999/C 135/045) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2304/98

by Frédéric Striby (I-EDN) to the Commission

(22 July 1998)

Subject: Mutual recognition of driving licences by Member States

The many German citizens who have chosen to take up residence in this frontier region bordering on
Germany have to complete a large number of administrative formalities; for example, their German
driving licences have to be exchanged for French ones. One German national living in France who
produced his German driving licence after being stopped for a police inspection in France in 1997 was

There is a European directive on the mutual recognition of driving licences. Could the Commission report
on the progress made in incorporating it into national law, particularly in France and Germany?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(22 September 1998)

Council Directive 91/439/EEC of 29 July 1991 on driving licences (1) came into effect on 1 July 1996.
Article 1.2 introduces the principle of mutual recognition of driving licences issued by Member States.

Given the fact that several Member States did not transpose Directive 91/439/EEC on time, the
Commission opened infringement proceedings against them, including Germany and France. The German
authorities notified the Commission on 2 June 1998 of the transposition of Directive 91/439/EEC into
national law, which will enter into force on 1 January 1999. The French authorities notified the
Commission on 18 March 1998 of a draft decree to transpose Directive 91/439/EEC. This draft decree
is expected to enter into force on 1 January 1999.

However, all Member States have respected the principle of mutual recognition since 1 July 1996, even in
the absence of formal transposition. In cases that have arisen to date, the central French and German
authorities have taken action to ensure the application of this principle, even retrospectively, when local
authorities that were not aware of Community law were infringing this principle.

The Commission will follow up all cases brought to its attention by Union citizens and will take the
necessary steps to ensure the principle of mutual recognition is applied in practice.

(1) OJ L 237, 24.8.1991.

(1999/C 135/046) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2306/98

by Helwin Peter (PSE), Hiltrud Breyer (V)

and Doris Pack (PPE) to the Commission

(22 July 1998)

Subject: Marriage, family, parentage and divorce law in the EU Member States

1. The number of marriages between partners from different EU countries is increasing. All Member
States have different marriage and family laws which have not yet been mutually recognized and which
considerably inhibit the freedom of movement of EU citizens. In Germany a marriage is not possible, for
example, unless a certificate of descent is presented. A French bride can, however, only obtain a certificate
of origin in her home country. There is no EU provision which recognizes this document as equivalent and
as a result an enormous amount of bureaucracy must be dealt with. How has the Commission sought to
14.5.1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 135/41

deal with the problem of non-uniform marriage and family legislation up to now? What results have been

2. The divorces of two EU citizens are also not recognized by other Member States. A German-Italian
couple divorced in German is not automatically considered to be divorced in Italy. Children of a couple
irrevocably bear the name of the father, which can cause problems if the child lives with the mother and
the mother uses her maiden name, i.e. a different name from that of the child. What possibilities does the
Commission see to achieve mutual recognition of the differing legal situations in the Member States?

3. Registrars often lack knowledge about the legal situation in another Member State. European
registrars have pointed out the great need for expertise in this field. To what extent does the Commission
consider that the drawing up of an EU information brochure and the introduction of specific further
training possibilities would be useful? Is the Commission prepared to provide financial support for such

Answer given by Mrs Gradin on behalf of the Commission

(8 October 1998)

1. The Commission has not taken any initiative with regard to substantive law applicable to marriage
and the family. With the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, the Commission will be able to take
any action which might be required on the matter.

2. With regard to the recognition of divorces granted in another Member State, the Council (Justice and
Home Affairs) recently adopted a Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of
Judgments in Matrimonial Matters (Brussels II Convention). This Convention, which must still be ratified
by the Member States, provides that a decision granting a divorce in one Member State can be recorded in
the civil-status records of another Member State without the need to follow any procedure. This
Convention does not include any provision with regard to whether the children should bear the father’s
or the mother’s name. This matter is governed by the private international law of the trial court.

3. It is for the Member States to ensure that registrars are supplied with the appropriate information.
Nevertheless the Commission would recall that under the Grotius programme it can provide financial
assistance for projects submitted to it by law professionals with a view to improving their knowledge of
the legal and judicial culture of other Member States.

(1999/C 135/047) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2311/98

by Monica Baldi (PPE) to the Commission

(22 July 1998)

Subject: Schengen Agreement and airport safety

In view of the Schengen Agreement and the abolition of systematic customs checks within the Single
Market, how does the Commission consider that an adequate level of safety for citizens at airports can be
ensured, especially with reduced staffing levels and high volumes of traffic, as at Florence airport?

Can the Commission check or take steps to ensure that the applicable safety regulations are being
complied with?