CJEU Case C-490/20 | V.M.A. v. Stolichna Obsthina, Rayon Pancharevo (Sofia municipality, Pancharevo district)

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Publication Date 2020-2021
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Information Guide concerning Case C-709/20 from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which relates to the recognition across the European Union of a birth certificate issued in another EU Member State that indicates two parents of the same sex as the legal parents of the child.

Further information:

VMA (a Bulgarian national) and KDK resided in Spain since 2015 and were married in 1028. Their child SDKA was born in Spain in 2019. The child's birth certificate, drawn up by the Spanish authorities, refers to both mothers as being the parents of the child. Since a birth certificate issued by the Bulgarian authorities is necessary to obtain a Bulgarian identity document, VMA applied for such a document on behalf of SDKA. In support of her application, VMA submitted a legalised and certified translation of the extract from the Spanish civil register. Local Bulgarian authorities later requested evidence with respect to the identity of SDKA's biological mother. The model birth certificate applicable in Bulgaria has only one box for the mother and another for the father.

VMA refused to provide the information requested, and therefore the Bulgaria birth certificate was not issued due to the lack of information on the biological mother and the fact that reference to two females parents on a birth certificate is contrary to Bulgarian public policy. VMA later decided to bring an action against that decision before the Administrative Court of the City of Sofia (Administrativen sad Sofia-grad). The Bulgarian Court was uncertain as to whether the refusal by the Bulgarian authorities to register the birth of a Bulgarian national in these specific circumstances infringes the rights conferred by the TFEU and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It therefore referred to the CJEU a set of questions concerning the interpretation of Article 4(2) TEU, Articles 20 and 21 TFEU and Articles 7, 24 and 45 of the Charter.

The Court's Advocate General issued an opinion concerning this case on 15 April 2021. On 14 December 2021, the CJEU decided that in these circumstances an EU Member State is obliged to issue an identity card or passport without requiring a birth certificate to be drawn up beforehand by its national authorities. It is also obliged to recognise the document that the host Member State that permits that child to exercise, with each of the (same sex) parents, the child's right to move and reside freely within the EU territory.

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
EUI: Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies: Special Report, January 2021: EU law and the mutual recognition of parenthood between Member States: the case of V.M.A. v Stolichna Obsthina https://hdl.handle.net/1814/69731
EUI: Global Citizenship Observatory, 04/02/2021: Protecting the right to a nationality for children of same-sex couples in the EU – A key issue before the CJEU in V.M.A. v Stolichna Obsthina (C-490/20) https://globalcit.eu/protecting-the-right-to-a-nationality-for-children-of-same-sex-couples-in-the-eu-a-key-issue-before-the-cjeu-in-v-m-a-v-stolichna-obsthina-c-490-20/
ILGA Europe: News, 04/02/2021: European Court must rule in favour of a child at risk of statelessness and her family’s freedom of movement in the EU, say leading LGBTI rights organisations https://ilga-europe.org/resources/news/latest-news/european-court-must-rule-favour-child-risk-statelessness-and-her-familys
Human Rights Watch (HRW): News, 11/02/2021: Child of Lesbian Mothers Has Right to Bulgaria Citizenship https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/02/11/child-lesbian-mothers-has-right-bulgaria-citizenship
ULB: Institute for European Studies: Odysseus Network: Blog, 15/02/2021: Protecting the right to a nationality for children of same-sex couples in the EU – A key issue before the CJEU in V.M.A. v Stolichna Obsthina (C-490/20) https://eumigrationlawblog.eu/protecting-the-right-to-a-nationality-for-children-of-same-sex-couples-in-the-eu-a-key-issue-before-the-cjeu-in-v-m-a-v-stolichna-obsthina-c-490-20/
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer: Blog, 16/04/2021: CJEU Advocate General clarifies that family ties established in one Member State must be recognised across the EU https://sustainability.freshfields.com/post/102gvtq/cjeu-advocate-general-clarifies-that-family-ties-established-in-one-member-state
European Association of Private International Law (EAPIL): Blog, 20/04/2021: AG Kokott on C-490/20, V.M.A. v Stolichna Obshtina, Rayon ‘Pancharevo’ https://eapil.org/2021/04/20/ag-kokott-on-c-490-20-v-m-a-v-stolichna-obshtina-rayon-pancharevo/
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer: Blog, 15/12/2021: CJEU issues landmark ruling strengthening the rights of rainbow families https://sustainability.freshfields.com/post/102hehy/cjeu-issues-landmark-ruling-strengthening-the-rights-of-rainbow-families
KPMG: GMS Flash Alerts, 20/12/2021: European Union – ECJ Decides on Free Movement of LGBTQ Families https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2021/12/flash-alert-2021-313.html
European Law Blog, 21/12/2021: The Cross-Border Recognition of the Parent-Child Relationship in Rainbow Families under EU Law: A Critical View of the ECJ’s V.M.A. ruling https://europeanlawblog.eu/2021/12/21/the-cross-border-recognition-of-the-parent-child-relationship-in-rainbow-families-under-eu-law-a-critical-view-of-the-ecjs-v-m-a-ruling/
EU Law Analysis, 11/01/2022: Rainbow families and the right to freedom of movement – the V.М.А.v Stolichna obshtina, rayon ‘Pancharevo’ case http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2022/01/rainbow-families-and-right-to-freedom.html

EurActiv, 09/02/2021: Lesbian mother of stateless baby takes citizenship fight to top EU court https://www.euractiv.com/section/non-discrimination/news/lesbian-mother-of-stateless-baby-takes-citizenship-fight-to-top-eu-court/
France24, 09/02/2021: Same-sex couple takes baby citizenship fight to top EU court https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210209-same-sex-couple-takes-baby-citizenship-fight-to-top-eu-court
Politico, 14/12/2021: Bulgaria must issue identity papers to same-sex couple’s child, EU court rules https://www.politico.eu/article/bulgaria-identity-papers-child-same-sex-couple-eu-court/
EurActiv, 14/12/2021: EU court asks Bulgaria to give passport to baby of lesbian couple https://www.euractiv.com/section/non-discrimination/news/eu-court-asks-bulgaria-to-give-passport-to-baby-of-lesbian-couple/
Emerging Europe: 14/12/2021: EU’s top court orders Bulgaria to issue passport to child with same-sex parents https://emerging-europe.com/news/eus-top-court-orders-bulgaria-to-issue-passport-to-child-with-same-sex-parents/
Associated Press, 14/12/2021: EU’s top court boosts the rights of same-sex parents https://apnews.com/article/95b602f6749ae926334ce529522c15bd
Reuters, 14/12/2021: Top EU court rules Bulgaria must issue ID to child of two mothers https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL8N2SZ4IW
Euronews, 14/12/2021: Same-sex parents and their children must be recognised as a family across whole EU, rules court https://www.euronews.com/2021/12/14/same-sex-parents-and-their-children-must-be-recognised-as-a-family-across-whole-eu-rules-c
The Sofia Globe, 14/12/2021: EU court in ruling on case of ID document for child of same-sex couple in Bulgaria https://sofiaglobe.com/2021/12/14/eu-court-in-ruling-on-case-of-id-document-for-child-of-same-sex-couple-in-bulgaria/
BNR News, 14/12/2021: EU Court of Justice: Bulgaria should issue an identity document to a child of same-sex parents https://bnr.bg/en/post/101572495/eu-court-of-justice-bulgaria-should-issue-an-identity-document-to-a-child-of-same-sex-parents
Novinite.com, 14/12/2021: EU Court: Bulgaria is Obliged to Issue Identity Documents for Children with Same-Sex Parents https://www.novinite.com/articles/212731/EU+Court%3A+Bulgaria+is+Obliged+to+Issue+Identity+Documents+for+Children+with+Same-Sex+Parents
EUObserver, 15/12/2021: EU top court: Same-sex parents with children are 'family' https://euobserver.com/democracy/153823

CJEU CURIA: Case C-490/20 | Stolichna obshtina, rayon „Pancharevo“ https://curia.europa.eu/juris/documents.jsf?num=C-490/20
CJEU: Press Release No 62/2021, 15/04/2021: Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-490/20 V.M.A. v Stolichna obshtina, rayon ‘Pancharevo’ https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/p1_3488970/en/
CJEU: Press Release No 221/2021, 14/12/2021: Judgment in Case C-490/20 Stolichna obshtina, rayon ‘Pancharevo’ https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/p1_3588564/en/

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