Commission launches public consultation on legal aspects of cross-border protection of vulnerable adults

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the cross-border protection of vulnerable adults. The consultation focuses on the cross-border situation for adults who need adequate support to take care of their personal and financial matters, for instance because of intellectual disabilities, mental health conditions or dementia. Their fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, have to be equally safeguarded in cross-border cases throughout the EU. Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “There are currently no EU-wide rules to determine which court would have jurisdiction, which law would apply or how a decision or a private mandate would be recognised in cross-border cases. A clear legal framework would help avoid unnecessary difficulties for vulnerable adults and their families.” Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, said: “Situations of vulnerability must not be an obstacle to the full exercise of individual rights. We are taking action to address the experiences of discrimination that can impact older persons or persons with disabilities in our Union. Promoting independent living and making sure that the maximum level of protection does not stop at internal borders will also be crucial to address the needs of an ageing population”. Only 10 Member States are party to the 2000 Protection of Adults Hague Convention. As a result, vulnerable adults, who for instance own bank accounts or immovable property in another Member State, or need to move abroad, may face judicial, administrative or language barriers. As indicated in the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Commission will work with Member States to implement the 2000 Hague Convention in full respect of the UNCRPD. The consultation aims to inform the Commission’s upcoming proposalon further measures to strengthen the protection of vulnerable adults in cross-border situations, by gathering opinions on the current functioning of cross-border cooperation and possible future improvements. The public consultation will be available in all EU languages until 29 March 2022.