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C 137 E/70 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.


Answer given by Mr Prodi on behalf of the Commission

(9 October 2002)

The Treaty of Nice stipulates that the maximum number of Members of Parliament will in future be 732.
Under Article 2 of the Protocol on the enlargement of the European Union, which is annexed to the Treaty
of Nice, the number of Members for the UK as of 2004 will be 72. However, under the third paragraph of
Article 2 of the said Protocol, if the total number of Members of Parliament to be elected is lower than
732, the number of Members for election in each Member State will be adjusted proportionately for the
2004-2009 term of office, so as to bring the total as close as possible to 732. The exact number of
Members of Parliament to be elected in 2004 in each Member State under the above-mentioned provisions
will be decided by the Council.

The allocation of seats in Parliament within each Member State is currently governed by national
provisions. The Commission recalls that on 12 June 2002 Parliament gave its assent to the draft Council
Decision amending the Act concerning the election of representatives of the European Parliament by direct
universal suffrage (A5-0225/2002), which provides, inter alia, that Members of Parliament are elected on a
proportional representation basis, but that ‘in accordance with its specific national situation, each Member
State may establish constituencies … or subdivide its electoral area in a different manner, without affecting
the essentially proportional nature of the voting system’. It is thus for each Member State to decide for
itself, in accordance with these provisions, whether to establish regional constituencies, and, if so, on what

(2003/C 137 E/079) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2314/02

by Françoise Grossetête (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(19 July 2002)

Subject: Legal implications of marriages between EU citizens of different nationalities

In the European Union there are many marriages between partners who are nationals of different Member
States, which raises a number of legal questions, including the following:

Where two Europeans of different nationalities marry, can the partners acquire dual nationality on the
basis of the marriage certificate if they so wish?

Where two EU citizens of different nationalities marry, what, in the opinion of the Commission, is the
legal value of a private agreement signed by the two partners regarding parental authority or responsibility
for a child born of the marriage?

If no firm decisions have yet been taken on these matters, what approach does the Commission propose to
take to these issues arising from the differing marital and family laws in the Member States?

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(23 September 2002)

As regards the acquisition of dual nationality by marriage between two Community nationals of different
nationalities, the Commission would inform the Honourable Member that there are no Community rules
on the acquisition of nationality. The ways in which nationality is acquired and the conditions under
which this takes place are governed by the national rules of each Member State.

The Honourable Member raises the issue of the legal status of a private document signed by both parents,
in the context of marriage between two Community nationals of different nationalities, regarding parental
responsibility for a child born of this marriage. Although such a situation is not governed by Community
rules, the question of the basis for parental responsibility is referred to in the Commission’s proposal on
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/71

parental responsibility of 3 May 2002 (1). Under Article 2 of this proposal, the rights and duties associated
with parental responsibility may result, inter alia, from an agreement having legal effect. The definition of
‘an agreement having legal effect’ under the national legal systems concerned has yet to be established, but
would, in general, imply that the agreement had been approved or authorised by administrative or judicial

As regards the difference between the national legal systems of the Member States with regard to marriage
and family law, the Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted a programme of measures for
implementation of the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in civil and commercial matters on
30 November 2000. This programme provides for the reduction of the interim measures which slow
down the implementation of decisions in various areas, including that of family law. The programme
identifies child visiting rights and maintenance claims as areas in which immediate progress is needed.

Council Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 (2) (the Brussels II Regulation), which has been in force since
1 March 2001, lays down common rules on jurisdiction, and the recognition and implementation of
decisions on marriage and parental responsibility for joint children. The Commission also adopted a
proposal on 3 May 2002 which is currently under discussion. This proposal seeks to broaden the field of
application of the Brussels II Regulation to include all decisions on parental responsibility and to introduce
provisions on child abduction and trans-border visiting rights.

It may be seen from the above that the Commission’s initiatives in the field of family law, a highly
sensitive area in which divergences between national legislation often reflect historical and cultural
differences, relate to mutual recognition of decisions, not the harmonisation of substantive law.

(1) COM(2002) 222 final.

(2) Council Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 of 29 May 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of
judgments in matrimonial matters and in matters of parental responsibility for children of both spouses  OJ L 160,

(2003/C 137 E/080) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2329/02

by Laura González Álvarez (GUE/NGL) to the Council

(26 July 2002)

Subject: Human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Increasingly alarming reports have been received in recent times concerning the human rights situation in
the Islamic Republic of Iran. The number of executions announced by the official press during the first six
months of 2002 was three times as high as in the corresponding period for 2001. The current wave of
repression in the country has resulted in 21 public executions in a week and the incarceration of
thousands of people.

Furthermore, government sources reveal that four women who have been condemned to death by stoning
are in prison, awaiting their tragic fate. Their execution would bring to 23 the number of people who have
been condemned to this barbaric punishment under the Khatami presidency  not to mention the public
floggings and the harassment of ordinary people by the security forces.

The fact that the resolution on human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (which was tabled in Geneva
during the final session of the UN Human Rights Commission to be held under Spain’s presidency of the
EU) failed by one vote to be adopted has been interpreted by the Teheran authorities as a sign of relaxation
on the part of the EU. This has prompted the Iranian Government to aggravate a situation which was
already serious enough.

What means can the EU employ in order to monitor the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of
Iran, apart from the dialogue which is proceeding with the country’s authorities?

Since the date of the next UN General Assembly constitutes a deadline for assessing the human rights
situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, is the EU intending to table a resolution on the subject?