Cross-border protection of vulnerable adults in Europe under discussion

Emily Deane TEPSTEP took part in the EC-HCCH Joint Conference on the Cross-Border Protection of Vulnerable Adults last week in Brussels, to discuss the ratification of the Hague Convention of 13 January 2000 on the International Protection of Adults (the Hague Convention) at EU and global level and the possible future EU legislative initiatives in this field.

The event, organised jointly by the European Commission and The Hague Conference on Private International Law, brought together legal practitioners, judges, academics and government officials who deal practically with the challenges associated with the cross-border protection of vulnerable adults in Europe and beyond.

STEP’s EU cross-border expert Richard Frimston TEP joined panellists to discuss the need for an international and regional legal framework for the cross-border protection of vulnerable adults from the perspective of organisations providing services and/or protection. Richard was accompanied by representatives from Dementia Alliance and Alzheimer’s Disease International, AGE Platform Europe, CEOs in global banking and the President of the International Union of Notaries (UINL).

Richard is the coordinator of the Protection of Adults in International Situations Project Team and spoke on behalf of STEP as a member of the Board and Co-Chair of the Public Policy Committee. He delivered some pertinent points on the need for a protective framework for our increasingly aged society and those living with disabilities, and their supportive loved ones, including family members and guardians, in accordance with their human rights.

He expressed concern with powers of representation which are generally not measures of protection, unless confirmed with sufficient legal process, and the manner of exercise of such powers of representation being governed by the law of the state in which they are exercised. He argued for more balance between the protection and autonomy of individuals, and called for improved methods of powers of representation to be accepted cross-border.

The conference emphasised that this work is invaluable since the Hague Convention determines which courts have the jurisdiction to take protection measures, and which law is to be applied in circumstances when a vulnerable person requires it.

Importantly it establishes a system of central authorities to cooperate with one another and locate vulnerable adults, as well as providing information on the status of vulnerable persons to other authorities. Although much work has been carried out already, more could be done to improve the quality of European law, increase practical guidance in the European legal field and enhance European legal integration.

STEP is asking members for any practical examples of when they have encountered difficulties in practice in relation to England and Wales not having ratified the Hague Convention. Please email STEP’s policy team if you have any feedback on this issue, at [email protected].

STEP will keep you updated on the outcome of these discussions.

Emily Deane TEP is STEP Technical Counsel

STEP attends European Parliament meeting on vulnerable adults across Member States

senior man looking at passpor
STEP members Richard Frimston TEP and Anneke Vrenegoor TEP attended the European Parliament (EP) on 20 April to hear expert presentations on vulnerable adults across Member States (MS) by Dr Ian Curry Summer and Pietro Franzina (see presentations below).

The occasion followed continued debate in the EP regarding the difficulty that MS are encountering to ensure the protection of their senior citizens.

Each state has its own legal system in place in order to safeguard its senior citizens, however, with an increasing number of people on the move, the applicable law and jurisdiction is becoming more complex.

MEP Joëlle Bergeron, Robert Bray, Isabelle Bardy, Francisco Ruiz (JURI secretariat) and the two experts were in attendance, and STEP member Dr Fiona Murray described the presentations as ‘clear and aligned’. MEP Bergeron broadly concurred with the findings of the experts and reiterated the need for EU legislation for an EU certificate for recognition and protection of vulnerable adults.

STEP is monitoring the issue of EU legislation across MS.

Richard Frimston TEP and Kathleen Cunningham TEP will also be presenting a session on vulnerable adults, and the global legal approaches being adopted, at the STEP Global Congress in Amsterdam on 30 June – 1 July.


Emily Deane TEP is Technical Counsel at STEP

STEP experts at European Parliamentary Hearing on protection of vulnerable adults

elderly man and younger carer
STEP expert speakers attended the European Parliamentary Hearing titled ‘The protection of vulnerable adults: a cross border perspective’ on 14 March in Brussels.

The Hearing was focused on the issue of protecting vulnerable adults across Member States (MS). Each MS has its own legal system in place in order to safeguard its senior citizens, however, with an increasing number of citizens moving to or visiting other MS, it is becoming difficult to ensure their protection.

The Public Hearing consisted of presentations by expert speakers, namely, Domenico Damascelli (Italy), Jean-Christophe Rega (France), STEP member Anneke Vrenegoor (Netherlands), Chairman of the STEP EU committee Richard Frimston TEP (UK) and Philippe Lortie (First Secretary of the Hague Conference on Private International Law).

MEP Bergeron was in support of an EU Regulation to oblige more MS to ratify the Hague Convention (HC) as well as modifying certain aspects of the HC. Whereas, Patrizia De Luca representing the Commission felt that imposing EU legislation would be premature.

There was also a difference of opinion over whether the issue was one of family law or of property law. If the issue is one of family law then unanimity is required which would make the adoption of an EU Regulation far more difficult to accomplish. However, the expert speakers unanimously agreed that it was a matter of property law, which affects families, but is not a family law matter.

This topical matter regarding potential EU legislation across MS is ongoing and STEP will be attending future meetings as it progresses.

STEP experts, Richard Frimston TEP and Kathleen Cunningham TEP will also be presenting a session on vulnerable adults, and the global legal approaches being adopted, at the STEP Global Congress in Amsterdam on 30 June – 1 July 2016. Register before 29 April to save up to EUR355.


Emily Deane TEP, STEP Technical Counsel