On 18 October in Lisbon, the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced an agreement of EU leaders on a new EU treaty. Distinctly not a constitution, we are told, but what will be its impact on English family law? Specifically, does it weaken our position to oppose applicable law and other reforms contrary to our culture and traditions? Dr Helen Stalford of Liverpool University, a leading commentator of European family law, carried out an examination of the new treaty for the President of the Family Division's International Family Law Committee which met on 22 October.
The proposed EU reform treaty enhances the status to fundamental rights including amending the relevant sections of the Maastricht Treaty which has been of such fundamental importance for England having the opportunity to opt out of the imposition of measures such as Rome III and applicable law. The current legal basis for EU family law measures is in article 65 of the existing treaty. The legislative procedure is in article 67. Family law in the proposed treaty (anticipated to be in force in 2009) is dealt with in a new article 69(d) which generally follows the previous provisions, although it now has an additional function of requiring the development of alternative methods of dispute settlement.
For further information see David Hodson in December  Fam Law.