Morally sensitive issues and cross-border movement in the EU

In her thesis, Koffemans researches how the law responses on cross-border movements in the EU with respect to morally sensitive issues. Nelleke Koffeman will defend her thesis on the 4th of November 2015

A new dimension

Within the European Union (EU) considerable diversity exists in respect of morally sensitive issues like legal recognition of same-sex relationships or reproductive matters, such as abortion, Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) and surrogacy. States generally expressly claim recognition of such diversity and it is explicitly respected at European level, even though increasingly more (implicit) influence of European law is visible in these areas.

Cross-border movement within the EU adds a new dimension to this complex picture. It implies that States are increasingly more confronted with (the consequences of) one another’s regimes. For example, same-sex couples residing in one EU Member State claim recognition of their marriage concluded in another Member State, while women from Member States with restrictive abortion regimes resort to States with more liberal regimes. Koffeman’s research explores this cross-border dimension, identifies a number of pressing questions and provides insight into the interests that are at stake in such situations.


Reproductive matters and legal recognition of same-sex relationships

It firstly investigates for three national jurisdictions (Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands) as well as for the relevant European framework what – if any – standard-setting is in place in respect of reproductive matters and legal recognition of same-sex relationships and how this developed over time.

This analysis, inter alia, provides insight into what considerations and interests play or have played a role in legislative debates and case-law, in what respects the regimes studied differ and how European law has influenced national standard-setting. It furthermore provides the necessary basis for the subsequent analysis of how the relevant legal systems respond to cross-border movement in these areas and how they interact.


While, for example, States sometimes appear to ward off cross-border movement in these areas to protect their national moral standards, in other situations they choose to – or are obliged under European law to – accommodate such mobility in order to protect the interests of vulnerable parties involved. This research thereby observes and clarifies the dynamics in decision-making regarding these issues, analysing and explaining how various areas and levels of law interact.

Practical information

Promotores:
Prof.dr. R.A. Lawson, prof. dr. J.H. Gerards (Radboud Universiteit)

Date and location 
Mw. Koffeman is defending her thesis on Wednesday 4 November 2015, 15h00, Academie building, Rapenburg 73, te Leiden.

Last Modified: 22-10-2015