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16. 6.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 187/45

Whilst uniquely identifiable vehicles built to special safety standards for school transport (as in the United States)
could provide further safety benefits, the Commission notes that no Member State has yet chosen to take this
approach in national legislation. Such an approach would clearly necessitate the creation of two fleets of buses −
one exclusively for school transport and one for other purposes and may not be regarded as practical or
cost-effective. The Commission will, in any event, continue to promote legislative and other changes in the effort
to try to ensure high safety standards for all buses and coaches, regardless of their use.

(1) OJ L 46, 17.2.1997.

(98/C 187/73) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3716/97


by Heidi Hautala (V) to the Council
(19 November 1997)

Subject: Child kidnappings

From time to time, as a result of divorce or marriage breakdown, children are snatched in the EU Member States
and taken to countries with different cultures. It is made particularly difficult for a Member State’s authorities to
act when a child is taken to a country whose legislation places the power of decision over the child with its father
and his family.

There is little information available about child-snatching, and the EU Member States do not make use of each
others’ experience in order to get children back. Are child kidnappings monitored at Council level? How does the
Council monitor compliance with the Hague Convention? How is the child’s interest assessed where it is shown
that compliance with the provisions of the Hague Convention will do more harm than good to the child?

Answer
(23 March 1998)

1. As it has indicated on a number of occasions, the Council attaches particular importance to matters
concerning the protection of children. A number of measures have been adopted with a view to their protection.

As regards the question put by the Honourable Member, the Council would point out that all the Member States
have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted in New York on
20 November 1989. In particular, Article 11 of the Convention provides that States Parties shall take measures to
combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.

In this connection it should be noted that practically all the Member States have ratified the Convention of The
Hague of 25 October 1980 on the civil aspects of the international abduction of children and all the Member
States have ratified the European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody
of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children concluded in the Council of Europe in Luxembourg on
20 May 1980.

In addition, all the Member States took an active part in the preparation of the Convention of 19 October 1996
concluded at the Conference at The Hague on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and
Cooperation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children, which also
includes provisions on the kidnapping of children.

2. In order to follow up the progress of the ratification of those conventions by each Member State, Council
bodies regularly take stock of the situation.