2 April 2014
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Roberta Angelilli (PPE)
Subject: International child abduction in Austria — retention and lack of any contact with the parent from whom they were abducted
The European Ombudsman’s office for cases of international child abduction has received a case concerning the abduction and withholding of children in Austria.
According to the information received, an Italian man and an Austrian woman had two children, who were born in 1998 and 2001 in Italy, where the couple were living.
The couple separated and were given joint custody of the children, but the mother took the children to Austria illegally in 2012, without their father’s consent and in breach of an order stating that the mother had to guarantee that the children would remain in Italy.
Following Italian court rulings that the children should return to Italy, the Austrian court also ordered their repatriation, but suspended enforcement pending an appeal by the Austrian parent.
The Court of Appeal confirmed the ruling that the children should return to Italy, but suspended enforcement pending an appeal before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court reinstated the proceedings because the children had not been sufficiently heard; the Court of Appeal heard them again and it would seem that, following the abduction and the cutting of all contact with their father, the children have no intention of seeing him again or of returning to Italy, even though they had previously been very close to him.
The Italian court rulings stating that the children should be placed with their father, which should have been recognised in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003, have also been completely ignored.
Two years have passed and the father, in addition to having his children abducted from him, has not been able to see them or have any contact with them. He is also concerned that the mother has changed the children’s surname without his knowledge.
In the light of the above, can the Commission say whether the case in question might give rise to infringement proceedings against Austria as regards correct enforcement of Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 and any other urgent measures that might be taken to guarantee the father’s right to visit, pending the children’s return to Italy?