About the Project

Empowering European Families (EEF) is a research project led jointly by Katharina Boele-Woelki (Bucerius Law School and Utrecht University), Wendy Schrama (Utrecht University) and Christiane Wendehorst (University of Vienna). It is co-financed by an action grant under the Justice Programme of the European Union and conducted in cooperation with the European Law Institute (ELI) as well as with the support of the Council of the Notariats of the European Union (CNUE).

Due to the lack of of a uniform European regime in the field of marriage and partnership law couples in the EU are still facing a number of problems when one or both partners live in a country other than their country of origin, when changing the country of their habitual residence, or when buying or selling property abroad. To a certain extent, the existing problems could be overcome by way of early choice of court and choice of law, and by agreeing in advance on important economic issues pertaining to a couple’s legal relationship. EEF aims at removing obstacles to free movement for couples within the EU and at improving certainty and predictability within a couple's legal relationships.

The project consists of three Workstreams. Within the framework of Workstream 1, European model templates concerning (i) choice of court, (ii) choice of applicable law, and possibly (iii) submission to family mediation will be developed, which citizens should be made aware of and gain access to whenever a marriage or registered partnership is concluded, a cross-border change of residence is registered, and in similar situations. These templates will be accompanied by simple standard information sheets. In particular in divorce and separation cases, the model clauses will seek to reduce complexity by offering to the parties a limited set of recommended 'one-stop shop packages'. Workstreams 2 and 3 will deal with European model pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements for spouses and registered partners as well as model cohabitation contracts for informal relationships, which should be enforceable in as many Member States as possible. 


This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Justice Programme of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the University of Vienna and Utrecht University and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.