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Protection of Family in the Legal System from comparative law aspects

Start of the event

2021. 06. 18.

End of the event

2021. 06. 18.


The conference entitled "Family Protection in the Legal System" was organised by the Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law, the Hungarian Comparative Law Association and the Central European Comparative Law Association in the framework of the Central European Professors' Network 2021. In view of the epidemic situation, the conference was held in a hybrid format, with speakers and audience being able to participate in person and online.
The aim of the conference was to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date insight into the issue of the legal protection of families in the Central European region, which the organisers firmly believe is crucial for Europe in the 21st century.
The conference covered the importance of marriage and family as fundamental human rights and fundamental values, the legal and non-legal instruments for the social and state protection of marriage and family, and the legal protection of marriage and family in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The opening speech of the conference was delivered by Prof. Dr. János Ede Szilágyi PhD, Head of the Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law, who welcomed the speakers, eminent experts in the field of jurisprudence. Following the welcome, he praised the importance of the Central European Professors' Network, presented the research methodology used and announced that the results of the research presented at the conference are expected to be published in December. Professor Szilágyi also stressed the importance for Hungary to participate in the series of conferences organised by the European Commission in the framework of the "Conference on the Future of Europe". In line with the Hungarian government's position on the need to build a more effective and genuinely strong European Union, the Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law is taking an active role in organising events where eminent legal scholars and public figures will discuss the challenges facing the Union in the coming period.
The first speaker of the conference was Prof. Dr. Zoltán Csehi PhD - Judge of the General Court of the European Court of Justice - who gave an insight into the so-called "Kafala case" of the CJEU in his lecture entitled "The definition of the family in the recent case law of the European Court of Justice". The case concerned an Algerian child who was placed under the guardianship of a French couple (EU nationals) through the traditional "kafala" system in Algeria. In the case, the CJEU concluded that the Algerian child could not be considered a "direct descendant" of the French couple within the meaning of Directive 2004/38.
The second lecture was given by Dr. Katalin Visontai-Szabó PhD, adjunct professor at the University of Szeged, entitled "The psychological background of family protection". She explained that the family plays a crucial role in the socialisation of children, as: the family is the environment where children learn how to interact and cooperate with others; how to deal with conflicts and tensions; how to express and control their feelings. The family is also the place where children learn how to love and be loved. The family shapes their identity and, last but not least, provides them with values that can help them throughout their lives. However, these functions are more difficult to fulfil in single-parent families, typically where the father is absent from everyday life, leaving children without a man/husband/father. It argues that the institution of marriage, which provides greater stability - and thus leads to an increased propensity to have children - deserves protection. Prof. JUDr. Zdeżka Králíčková, Professor at Masaryk University, Czech Republic, gave a lecture on "Family and family law in the Czech Republic". She argued that Czech family law can be described in both traditional and modern terms. In support of this assertion, Professor Králíčková presented legislative initiatives that could move the language of the pendulum towards the 'modern' side - but only moderately.
Prof. Dr. Aleksandra Korać Graovac PhD from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, gave a lecture on Croatian family law. The Law on Family and the Law on Same-Sex Civil Partnerships (2014) declared the legal effects of non-marital cohabitation equal to the legal effects of marital cohabitation in 2014. Although the former was annulled by the Croatian Constitutional Court due to its legal shortcomings, the amendment adopted in 2015 addressed the main problems that existed before. The government published a draft that would have defined the family as "the unit of the mother, father and their children, [even if] they do not live together". However, this draft never came into force.
After the virtual coffee break, Dr. Suzana Kraljić PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Maribor, Slovenia, gave a presentation entitled "New challenges of adoption in the 21st century - Are we ready?". Among other things, he spoke about the issue of adoption for same-sex couples under current Slovenian legislation. He informed the audience about legislative attempts to bring extramarital and spousal relationships on an equal footing. Although the draft law was supported by a large majority of MPs, it was voted down in the subsequent referendum by 63% to 36%. The Slovenian Family Law Act thus remained along the lines of the conservative legislation, as in other countries in the region.
Prof. Dr. INP PAN Marek Andrzejewski, Professor at the Institute of Legal Sciences of the Polish Academy, Poland, argued in his lecture that certain EU Member States and national organisations are putting pressure on other Member States to
in order to introduce certain legislation, irrespective of the fact that international documents require respect for the different regulations of different States. This situation creates tensions between Western European and Central European countries. In his view, the latter had perceived the threat to the institution of marriage earlier and were therefore able to mitigate in time the impact of these so-called "progressive tendencies", which undervalue the role of the family in the development of the individual and the functioning of society. Prof. Dr. Gordana Kovaček Stanić from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia, gave the audience an insight into Serbia's marriage statistics and the property law system under the Serbian Family Law Act, which, in its current form, only recognises the institution of marriage and does not contain any provisions for civil partnerships, whether same-sex or opposite-sex couples. In other words, these relationships are de facto partnerships, which do not offer the same kind of protection as cohabitation and raise serious questions about property rights. Nevertheless, a draft law is being prepared which would allow same-sex couples to formalise their relationship, giving them rights almost equal to those of married couples - for example, in property and inheritance - except for those relating to parental status.
Dr. JUDr. Lilla Garayová, PhD, (Pan-European University (PEU), Slovakia), in her presentation "Slovakia - A Conservative Approach to Marriage Law", argued that there is no alternative to marriage. She stressed that the union of man and woman is ancient to civilisation and can be found in practically all societies. At the same time, the institution of marriage has undergone more change in the last 50 years than in the previous 500. Whereas in the past marriage was primarily a means of social and economic stability, which was a prerequisite for, among other things, raising children, the idea of marriage as a private relationship between two individuals for the fulfilment of their individual needs is very new. Since this fulfilment does not always mean raising children, the purpose of marriage has also been redefined over the last half century, paving the way for new forms of partnership, redefining the gender of the spouse and the concept of cohabitation in the Western world. These changes were not so clear-cut in the Visegrad Four countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have taken a more conservative approach, but are now at a crossroads and have to decide whether to stay on the current path or go 'Western'. Current social and legislative trends are putting pressure on these countries to adopt this new direction.
After the lunch break, Dr. Edit Sápi PhD (University of Miskolc, Hungary) gave an insight into the concept of family and other forms of couple relationships in the Hungarian legal system. Among other things, she presented Hungary's Fundamental Law and the Family Protection Act. Dr. Balázs Molnár (Mária Kopp Institute for Population and Families, Hungary) explained in his presentation that a society cannot function well without well-functioning families. He presented the Hungarian government's Family Action Plan, which was created to achieve this goal. In the first year of the programme, nearly 200 000 families received support. Surveys show that a fifth of them would not have had children if it had not been for the Family Action Plan.
Finally, Dr. hab. Tímea Barzó (University of Miskolc, Hungary) gave a presentation on the difficulties of defining the concept of family in the legal systems of Central European countries. Dr. Balázs Molnár started her presentation with a similar statement to her thesis that "families are the basic elements of societies, representing cohesion". Such a prominent importance of the family is emphasised in the legal provisions of the Central European countries (Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Serbia and Slovakia) which were the main subject of his research. It is important to point out that her findings are in line with those of Dr. JUDr. Garayová, who made similar statements about the Visegrad Four countries.

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Prof Dr. Szilágyi János Ede
Prof. Dr. Csehi Zoltán
Dr. Visotai-Szabó Katalin
Prof. Dr. Aleksandra Korać Graovac
Prof. Dr. Zdeňka Králíčková
Prof. IPN PAN Dr. Marek Andrzejewski
Prof. Dr. Gordana Kovaček Stanić
Dr. habil. Lilla Garayová
Prof. Dr. Suzana Kraljić
Dr. Sápi Edit
Dr. Molnár Balázs
Dr. Henierné Prof. Dr. Barzó Tímea


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