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            (Rapport Uffiċjali u Rivedut)


                  Laqgħa Nru. 86

             It-Tnejn, 7 ta’ Mejju, 2007

          Stampat fl-Uffiċċju ta' l-Iskrivan
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                 L-GĦAXAR PARLAMENT


                       Laqgħa Nru. 86

                 It-Tnejn, 7 ta’ Mejju, 2007

 Il-Kumitat iltaqa' fil-Palazz, il-Belt Valletta, fis-18.35 p.m.


MINUTI                                              MADAME            ANNA         ZÁBORSKÁ
                                                    (Chairperson of the Committee on
Il-Minuti tal-Laqgħa Nru. 85 li saret fit-2         Women’s Rights and Gender Equality):
ta’ Mejju 2007 ġew konfermati.                      Mr Chairman, it is a great honour for me to
                                                    be received here.       Parliament is the
                                                    country‟s representative so this is why I am
                                                    particularly happy to be here. I hope we
                                                    will also have a good discussion. I always
      MEETING WITH THE                              seek to meet Members of Committees who
DELEGATION OF THE COMMITTEE                         are part of the Parliament and which deal
   ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND                            mainly with subjects that we are dealing
   GENDER EQUALITY OF THE                           with right now. You deal with women‟s
    EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT                             problems and Gender Equality because I
                                                    think it is part of your remit in being the
                                                    Committee for Social Affairs.
THE CHAIRMAN: Il-laqgħa tal-lum hija
mad-delegazzjoni        tal-Kumitat    għad-        I believe that you do not have a particular
Drittijiet tan-Nisa mill-Parlament Ewropew.         committee for women? I understand that
                                                    your Committee deals with problems
First of all I would like to welcome you to         related to women as well as with other
the Maltese Parliament, the House of                problems.
Representatives - although I am sure that
you have already been welcomed to Malta.            This is why I am very happy to be here,
The Members of the Social Affairs                   thank you very much and I am expecting a
Committee are looking forward to this               lot from this discussion. Permit me also to
meeting with you as Members of the                  introduce the members of my delegation.
European Parliament. I understand that              On my left is Madame Astrid Lulling who
your visit to Malta is a sort of fact finding       is from Luxembourg and a member of the
mission where you want to learn more and            European People‟s Party, the Christian
discuss issues about the Maltese situation          Democrats. On my immediate right is
on gender issues.                                   Madame Christa Prets who comes from
                                                    Austria and is a member of the Socialist
If you agree, I will introduce myself and the       Group and also on the right is Madame
Members of this Committee and then I will           Anna Hedh, from Sweden and is also a
leave it up to you to see what you would            member of the Socialist Group.
like to hear from us and discuss these
issues. First of all, I am Clyde Puli,              THE CHAIRMAN:                Just a point of
Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee            clarification. Regarding the Social Affairs
and come from the Nationalist Party, the            Committee, yes you are right we do not
Christian Democrat Party. On my right is            have a specific committee for Gender
the Honourable Frederick Azzopardi, who             Equality but it is important to know that the
also is a member of the Nationalist Party           Maltese House of Representatives is made
and is whip of the Nationalist group. On            up of 65 Members, 19 which form part of
my left is the Honourable Justyne Caruana           the Executive, one member is the Speaker
who is a member of the Labour Party, and is         and the rest are all part-timers. When you
spokesperson for Sports and Education.              mention the Social Affairs Committee of
Here beside me is Committee Clerk Ms                the Maltese Parliament, it is best described
Anna Coleiro and our Research Analyst Mr            by what it is not, rather than what it is. That
James Carabott. If you agree we will leave          means any subject that is not Public
it up to you to proceed.                            Accounts or Foreign Affairs falls under

Social Affairs. Would you prefer to touch             out and find employment. Of course the
on a particular subject or would you like to          Maltese government has done its part in
hear from us?                                         giving a number of incentives, for example
                                                      for parents and for child care facilities. But
MADAME ANNA ZÁBORSKÁ: When                            this is something that will change with time.
you applied to join the European Union you            But there needs to be a shift in culture.
had to change your legislation in many
respects in order to incorporate the                  At the moment the University population is
European legislation and directives. Now              made up of more female students than
that you are part of the EU you have                  males but then this does not reflect itself in
included the European legislation and                 employment. I do not know if some of my
abided by it. However we would like to                colleagues would like to add something.
know how far you have gone in terms of                Hon Justyne Caruana.
Gender Equality and non-discrimination
against women and whether you have                    HON. JUSTYNE CARUANA:                  The
actually managed to transpose the European            problem is that on paper we do have rights
legislation. Also we are interested to know           but when it comes to practice and reality it
if you are finding problems and if you feel           is quite a different story. We lack the
that further legislative changes are needed           structures     to     enhance      women‟s
on your side so as to achieve these goals.            empowerment and to encourage women to
And would this be your duty as Parliament             involve themselves more on the economical
if you find that more changes are needed.             and political level. The Hon. Clyde Puli
                                                      mentioned childcare centres. We do lack
THE CHAIRMAN: I would daresay that                    childcare centres and in Gozo, for example,
the real problem for Maltese society is not           they are nearly non-existent. So women
when it comes to transposing EU                       have to rely on their parents and for their
legislation, but it would be more of a                mothers to take care of their children to
culture change that it is needed. If for              enable them to go to work, which is not
instance you take the EU legislation and its          very encouraging.
transposition, since 2003 we have passed
the Gender Equality Act, the Protection of            Also on a political level we are also very
Maternity, Employment Regulations - that              disadvantaged when it comes to reconciling
is the Parental Leave Entitlement - and the           public life with family life, we do not have
Urgent Family Leave. We also have set up              the facilities to maybe encourage more
The National Commission for the                       women to involve themselves in this type of
Promotion of Equality between Men and                 activity.
Women, the Domestic Violence Act and a
number of other transpositions of                     MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: Normally
legislation.                                          we say that this is a problem everywhere,
                                                      that we do not have enough kindergarten or
But the problem with equality is that                 childcare institutions facilities in all the
sometimes we speak of this European social            member states. But, I think here it is more
model, which is not exactly the best                  than in many other countries because, as
description to go about. Some statistics put          you mentioned, of the culture. Women,
Maltese society behind others, for instance           who enter University, are expecting more
when it comes to employment. The thing                from their studies, from their future and
is, that in Malta, family culture is not valued       from their vocation. And now I think you
in the same way as for instance northern              have to give answers for the new
countries, so sometimes this would                    generation, for the new way. You cannot
discourage a Maltese woman from going                 keep it as it was. And if you have the

facilities, than women can do more with             business.    Actually they were already
their education. And so my question is, in          working there, it was just that they weren‟t
the next few years, do you have a special           recognised. Thus, we have realised that
budget for increasing the facilities for            most women prefer to work part-time due to
childcare, for example, for I think this must       flexible hours; at least in certain periods.
be the perspective for women.                       We have also adjusted the National
                                                    Insurance contribution so it favours this
MADAME ASTRID LULLING: As you                       sector. Of course, it has been adjusted for
had to implement all these directives of the        everybody but it will be most beneficial for
legislation on equal treatment and equal            women in employment.
opportunities - well we also had difficulties
in our countries - did you find any                 As for Childcare facilities, of course I do
difficulties with existing laws, for instance       not see it exactly that women have to recur
concerning social security? I know that in          to their parents, but at this day and age -
some members‟ states, retirement age was            because I don‟t think it will be possible in
different for women and men, but did you            the coming years - Maltese women have the
have something similar? And how did you             luxury of recurring to their parents instead
solve it?                                           of going to childcare facilities where they
                                                    have to pay, because most working-age
Also can you tell us something about the            mothers still do not work or at least they are
main difficulties you had when you had to           not in paid employment. So they are
implement these directives? On paper of             making the best use of their grandmothers,
course, as we know when it comes to                 if you see it that way. So of course now that
practice it is a different thing.       And         more women will be getting into
especially as we had the Directive 76               employment, definitely we have to
concerning Equal Access for Work                    encourage them – that‟s why they have
Promotion and all those things. We made a           been giving incentives – to take their
new one and also with positive action. Do           children to more childcare facilities.
you practise positive actions or positive
discrimination? Because it is allowed in the        We do not really practice Positive
framework of that directive.                        Discrimination and it will be an issue for
                                                    debate. The political parties do practice
I also want to ask, about a directive which         positive discrimination, they have quotas,
nobody never speaks about, Directive 86, its        but we do not have quota for parliament for
not a very strong one, concerning equal             instance.
treatment for self-employed and helping
spouses in small businesses. Did you do             MADAME             ASTRID         LULLING:
something about this?                               Regarding women at the work place. Now
                                                    there is also the Court of Justice and a lot of
THE CHAIRMAN:                 Regarding the         decisions concerning this because mostly
retirement age, we solved it by increasing          men complain - especially in countries like
the retirement age for everybody - even for         Germany. This especially happens when
men - and gradually it will go up to 65             there are not enough women in leading
years. (Interruptions) Before, it was 60            positions who have equal qualifications to
years for women and 61 years for men.               men and than rather the women gets
Eventually it will be rising gradually.             promoted than the men. You don‟t do
                                                    things like that.
Regarding the incentives you mentioned,
yes from this year we have started                  If you allow me another question, this time
recognising women who work in the family            about part-time work. This morning we

learnt that one of the conditions for working          meritocracy rather than discrimination
part-time is that you have to work a                   whether positive or negative. So we are
minimum of 20 hours. And so many                       basing ourselves on meritocracy.
employers only give 19½ hours, so that
part-time workers, especially women, don‟t             Having said that, the government is pushing
get any kind of benefits. Is that so? And              directly or indirectly for women to oppose.
what can you do about it? Why do you                   I can also say that in the eighties, a woman
have this limit? You can also have it                  working in the public service was expected
because the directive doesn‟t say it has to be         to resign from her job upon getting married.
20 hours, but says it‟s part-time.                     So I think we‟ve gone a long way since that
THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, in fact last week
in this committee we discussed this matter             In fact in the last few years, two or three
and we have just written to the Minister of            female Ambassadors have been nominated
Employment       to     investigate    this            and also we have the first female Permanent
discrimination.                                        Secretary. Also, although there are only
                                                       three women elected in the Government
HON. JUSTYNE CARUANA: Regarding                        Parliamentary Group, but they all occupy a
the point of positive discrimination                   position in the executive: two are Ministers
measures mentioned earlier, as the                     and the third is a Parliamentary Secretary,
Chairman said we do have it at political               so that makes it a hundred per cent.
level, but not on national level. Positive
discrimination measures do not completely              But even if you ask me, if I had to favour a
exist, we do not have quotas in managerial             quota for parliament, to be honest I will
and in administrative level. It is free for all.       definitely say no. This is democracy.
                                                       Anything we say will go to the media, we
We do have legislation to protect women in             try to educate, but I would not really favour
equal pay for equal work. That‟s our                   tampering with meritocracy. And when it
Industrial Legislation. So we have a legal             comes to democracy it is for the people to
statute to protect women. And we also have             judge, nobody else. I know that some of
the Industrial Tribunal. What is important             you don‟t agree, but that is my very honest
is that we have the National Commission                position.
for the Promotion of Equality which aids
women who feel aggrieved or feel                       MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: I want to
discriminated and the Commission then                  give a democratic answer. If women are
carry the prosecution for the case. The                not on the list, the voters do not have a
problem is that a lot of women are afraid to           chance to elect one.     So it‟s up to the
initiate these kinds of proceedings and to             parties to bring women on the list and …..
report them. So maybe in that respect we
have to encourage women to stand up for                THE CHAIRMAN: That‟s what we do.
their rights. But obviously it has nothing to
do with laws, it has nothing with what we              MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: And then
do here, but it‟s more a question of courage           it is a democratic decision. But you should
and culture as well.                                   say that we want to have a percentage of
                                                       women on the list. So that‟s democratic for
THE CHAIRMAN: It is a question of                      my point of view.
culture. I think if we have to do positive
discrimination it will be the cause of much            THE CHAIRMAN: That‟s what we do as
debate…. (Interruptions) Yes, of course                political parties. But then we do not impose
but the argument as it stands favours                  on the electorate. I can tell you, that both

parties have a frenetic drive to enrol women
to their lists. And sometimes they are even          THE CHAIRMAN: This is a society
given extra coverage which is positive. At           where 95% are against abortion.
least from the Nationalist Party side, that‟s
what we do. I‟ve been a party official and           MADAME ANNA HEDH: I respect that.
also the president of the Nationalist Local          But I think it is important that one learns
Councils for seven years and that‟s what we          from an early age about Sexual
used to do on purpose…. I mean it was                Reproductive Health. We also have heard
part ….. (Interruptions)                             that there are many young women who are
                                                     getting pregnant at a young age - teenage
No, it was with a conscious decision of              pregnancy. I think that this will be a
running things. But then that‟s about it, it‟s       problem for your social life.
up to the electorate. (Interruptions) No.
We have that in the statute. You are talking         THE CHAIRMAN: Yes, we do agree that
about candidates running for public office.          education should increase in that aspect but
(Interruptions)                                      not for abortion.

HON JUSTYNE CARUANA: In Sweden,                      MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: ….and
you have succeeded men in quotas.                    that means that you have to educate the
                                                     young people.
MADAME ANNA HEDH: But it took a
long time in Sweden too. In the last ten             THE CHAIRMAN:                Yes, there    is
years we have and now today we will be               education but there is not enough.
our 48th, and there are up to five women in
the national government. And it is very              Let me introduce you to the Hon. Karl
good.                                                Chircop who has just joined us. He is a
                                                     Member of the Committee from the
But I also want to ask you another question.         Opposition side, the Labour party.
This morning we met a lot of NGOs and we
had a meeting with teachers where we                 MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: I want to
talked about teaching Sexual Reproductive            ask more questions regarding child care
Health in schools. They told us that there is        facilities in Malta. I was not satisfied with
not a lot of teaching on this subject in             your answers when you said that now
Maltese schools. I am asking you this                grandparents are looking after the children.
because I know about your abortion law and           Of course until now you can manage that,
I think it is important for schools to teach         but now you have young grandparents who
about Sexual Reproductive Health. Do you             are educated and what will you be doing in
know anything about this?                            the future? You cannot then say that it is in
                                                     our culture. If you don‟t change the
THE CHAIRMAN:               Yes definitely.          infrastructure you will not change the
Regarding education and reproductive                 system and the culture in general. So I
health, there is nothing that says that there        think you have to ….
shouldn‟t be any teaching. Of course one is
sorry that until the recent past, it was a           THE CHAIRMAN: That is just what I
taboo subject. That is very correct. But I           said, you just rephrased me. I do agree. I
thought you mentioned abortion. Did you              said till now, till today, we have the luxury
mention abortion as well?                            of having grandparents taking care of our
                                                     children, and we have the luxury – which I
MADAME ANNA HEDH: No, no, I                          haven‟t mention - that we have kindergarten
understand and I respect your…                       education from three years onwards for

everybody, which is free for everybody. So          insurance? Where is my social security for
till now this is not working that bad. Of           the children?
course with more women going in
employment, then we need more childcare             THE CHAIRMAN: Social security for the
centres.    For that we have given out              children?
incentives and we have started this process.
                                                    MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: Yes, if I
MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: So that                       have children and I am separated, where is
was a question regarding the budget. But            my perspective for a new future with social
my question is what will be the strategy for        security, so that I have an income.
the next years? And exactly what are you
doing about it? Do you have a budget for            THE CHAIRMAN: Is it social income or
that? Do you have a plan for the next years,        social security?
you will increase it with 5%, 10% or 20%
of whatever, so the aim ....                        MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: That I
                                                    have an income for my children, that I can
THE CHAIRMAN: I can‟t give you a                    live independent… Can I start a new life?
percentage. Percentages are part of the             And I want to know the reason why Malta
national budget. The welfare state in Malta         is against divorce? What are the reasons
consumes around 50% of the national                 you have? So we can understand why you
budget, so it‟s part of that.                       cannot have divorce.

MADAME CHRISTA PRETS:                   My          THE CHAIRMAN:              I think that the
second question is about domestic violence          majority of Maltese people still believe that
and its consequences, and the fact that you         the way forward to strengthen the family is
don‟t have divorce law in Malta. So you             not to opt for divorce: as simple as that. I
have the women and the children as victims          am sure that if at the moment there is a
and there is no legal basis to start a new          referendum - where everybody is free to
future. So I think from my point of view, it        call for a referendum - and you had to ask
is discrimination.                                  the Maltese people, I think that the situation
                                                    would be a “no” for divorce. When the
THE CHAIRMAN: Well the fact that we                 Maltese society is prepared to have divorce
don‟t have divorce doesn‟t mean that we             then it is the society‟s own choice. This is a
don‟t have separation. So if it is a question       democracy, we are not the Talibans. This is
of domestic violence you can still go away          democracy and the government - that is my
from that violence. The question of divorce         government, the party that I support - has
is if you have the right to re-marry or not.        spoken adamantly against divorce and has
                                                    been returned to power for many times in
MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: What are                      the last 20 years. So I think the Maltese
the consequences if I am a victim of                people know whom they are voting for.
domestic violence and I want to become
divorced because I don‟t like ......                MADAME ASTRID LULLING: May I
                                                    ask something?        There was the same
THE CHAIRMAN: You can separate,                     situation in Italy. For a long long time Italy
you can be legally separated.                       had no divorce, but it was well known that
                                                    many thousands and thousands of couples
MADAME CHRISTA PRETS:                  But          didn‟t live together any more. You talked
where will be my insurance for the future?          about separation, and then do you affirm a
What can I do? Where is my social                   jurisdiction or how you solve the problems
                                                    of separation if you call it separation or

divorce? Also is there a legal basis for             victim taken away from the victim. So I
solving the problems when a couple                   think we have to improve on that respect.
separate?                                            There are other examples in foreign
                                                     countries which we may resort to and study,
THE CHAIRMAN:            Hon Dr Justyne              but for the time being the order is given
Caruana is a lawyer, maybe she can explain.          after judgment or part of the judgment and
                                                     not before as a preventive measure.
explain. We don‟t have divorce per se in             MADAME ASTRID LULLING: When a
our legal system. But as now we are part of          couple separates, there has to be a decision
the European Union, we have had divorce              as to who gets children‟s custody and what
amongst Maltese people. They do this by              they do with their property. Is this done by
gaining residence abroad for six months or           law?
so and then they get a divorce in that
European country or another country. Then            HON. JUSTYNE CARUANA: Separation
they have the divorce decree or the divorce          is regulated by our Civil Code, and is
judgment, they register it here and in the           brought about in two ways. It is either
right hand corner of the marriage certificate        separation by consensus where the parties -
they have Divorce. So by implication or by           the husband and the wife - agree on the
indirect inference we do have divorce                terms and conditions, the custody, the
although legally you cannot get it in Malta.         property, maintenance, etc.. Then they draw
                                                     up a public deed, which is binding between
Apart from that we have annulment                    them and cannot be changed except by
procedures as well.         We also have             those concerned or otherwise by a court
separation.       So if that answers your            order. That‟s the best scenario. But then
question, we do have an indirect divorce.            there is the court proceedings, where one
Maybe a lot of people are not happy about            party is against the other.
it, but that‟s the reality.
                                                     Recently we have introduced the protection
With regards to security for the children,           for the children, a children‟s lawyer, so at
since the „70s we have had a very strong             least now there is a person who is voicing
welfare state. In the „70s we also had the           out the needs and the concerns of the child.
children allowance introduced, so whether            But with regards to the rest, it‟s just one
children are in a strong, healthy and happy          party against the other, fighting against each
family or whether they are in a distraught           other, trying to get the best out from the
family, they both are entitled to the                situation and the magistrate or the judge
children‟s allowance to ensure that they             decides.
have an amount of money, to enable them
to grow up and get along.                            Yes we do have a family court. But prior to
                                                     going there we have a mediation process. It
With regards to women who are victims of             is compulsory but sometimes it yields good
domestic violence, we recently introduced            results although it depends on the situation.
the Domestic Violence Act, so legal wise             If the mediation is successful, the couple go
we are in a much better position. But then           on living happily together again until
there is the problem of facilities, especially       something crops up again. If on the other
shelters for the victims, as we don‟t have           hand it is unsuccessful the mediator tries for
enough shelters for the victims to go to.            a consensus separation, if that is not
Also we don‟t have the same orders which             forthcoming it‟s a court case, one part
maybe exist in your country where prior to           against the other.
being arraigned in court the perpetrator is a

MADAME ASTRID LULLING: We call                       insurance. In our country or in many other
it divorce, you call it separation.                  countries, if one part is guilty for the
                                                     divorce - for example the man - then he has
HON. JUSTYNE CARUANA: But when                       to pay for the woman and for the children.
you separate you cannot get married.                 So that is what he has to do. And the
Separation implies that you don‟t have to            decision is then taken by the court when
cohabit with your partner, but you cannot            they are only divided. Is it the same?
re-marry. To get married again, your
marriage has to be annulled.             And         ONOR JUSTYNE CARUANA: Whether
annulment is either by civil annulment, if           both parties are guilty or both parties are
you got married civilly, or by ecclesiastical        innocent, if one party doesn‟t work and the
tribunal, if you are married by the church.          other part works, the one who is working is
Traditionally, here in Malta, the majority of        obliged to pay maintenance to the other
Maltese people get married in church.                party and to the children. That is by court
                                                     degree. Then if from the court procedures
But you have a choice. If you opt to get             and from the evidence it transpires that one
married civilly then the civil courts have           part is, for example, guilty of violence, he is
jurisdiction on your marriage, but if you            penalised.
decide to get married in church, then the
ecclesiastical tribunal will take on the case.       With regards to the Community of
Also if you get married in church, it‟s              Acquists, whatever is acquired from the
recognized by the state but if you get               date of marriage till the date of separation,
married civilly it‟s not recognised by the           half of that is entitled to the wife and the
church.                                              other half to the husband. If the husband,
                                                     for example - with due respect to all the
MADAME ASTRID LULLING: You                           males – is guilty for the breakdown of
cannot get married in the church. First you          marriage due to severe circumstances such
have to be married civilly.                          as violence, drug abuse, cruel treatment,
                                                     whatever it is, the court can order that he
ONOR JUSTYNE CARUANA: It used to                     will loose his share by way of penalty. This
be like this.                                        only happens in very extreme cases and we
                                                     had very few court cases ordering that the
MADAME ASTRID LULLING: There                         husband or the wife loose their share as a
are now voices coming up in my country               penalty for behaving in such a way.
saying: Why can‟t people choose? Because
until now you could only be married in               MADAME ANNA HEDH: I wonder what
church if you were married before at a civil         the criteria to have a marriage annulled are.
marriage. I don‟t know what it is in other
countries. And it‟s very interesting for us          ONOR        JUSTYNE             CARUANA:
now because voices come up if you are not            Annulment or separation?
married civilly. It‟s much easier. And we
don‟t have all the problems with divorce             MADAME ANNA HEDH: Annulment.
that we used to have.
                                                     ONOR          JUSTYNE          CARUANA:
ONOR JUSTYNE CARUANA: It used to                     Annulment is more complicated than that.
be that way, and people used to get married          Some of the reason are, if one of the parties
both ways. But now people can choose.                has to have or related to some mental
                                                     disorder which is present prior to getting
MADAME CHRISTA PRETS: Another                        married, if at the moment of exchanging of
question on the same subject is regarding            the vows there is a vice of consent, for

example there is duress, fear, intoxication        ONOR JUSTYNE CARUANA: Madam
and things like that, if prior to getting          you have a problem on that because divorce
married, one of the party is excluding the         is not recognized everywhere, so you have a
rights and obligation of marriage, excluding       problem to harmonize. What you are
procreation or excluding mutual rights -           thinking about is some common grounds or
intimately, I mean - and things like that.         common legal framework.
It‟s very theological. Our grounds for
annulment are similar to the canon laws            MADAME ASTRID LULLING: This is
ones. They are very close.                         what‟s happening and I call this divorce
                                                   tourism. That is why we are now talking to
MADAME ASTRID LULLING: Is it                       the Commission about this problem, to see
decided by Court or by the Church only?            if we can get some basic rules when there is
                                                   divorce or separation – call it what you
ONOR JUSTYNE CARUANA: Civil                        want - because in order to avoid that, you
annulment is decided by the family court,          can go to another country where you are
but catholic marriages are dealt with by the       better off. That is why the European Union
Ecclesiastical Tribunal, the Church Court.         should keep an eye on this, in order not to
The Ecclesiastical Tribunal - presided by          have a dumping in divorce and separation
Ecclesiastical judges, not normal judges -         laws and conditions. This is something
are all priests and are regulated by canon         which the women‟s organizations are very
law not by civil law.                              preoccupied with, especially in my country
                                                   and also in other countries.
THE CHAIRMAN:                Any     further
questions?                                         MADAME ANNA ZÁBORSKÁ:                      I
                                                   believe there‟s a risk of encroaching on the
MADAME ASTRID LULLING: At the                      subsidiarity of each member state.         I
moment in the European Union, there is a           remember in my own country, Slovakia,
certain divorce tourism going on. We are           during the communist era, the opposite used
very preoccupied by this, especially when it       to happen. At that time we also had
concerns countries where there is divorce,         marriage tourism where young men and
as divorce legislation is different from           women would look for a foreigner who was
country to country. Also in our countries,         willing to marry them as fast as possible so
women‟s organisations think that there             that it would enable them to leave their
should be a framework in the European              communist country or the communist zone.
Union so that you have, more or less, the
same obligations and rights. Because when          Anyway, I don‟t think you can base
the divorce law is too hard….. For instance        legislation on exceptions. Family law must
in Germany you have the splitting of               remain the remit of each member state.
pension rights when you divorce. And then          And you shouldn‟t focus on such
of course German men go and try to divorce         exceptions.
in another country where this doesn‟t exist.
                                                   Thank you very warmly for answering our
Therefore we think there should be a certain       questions so directly on things which
framework or harmonization in the                  pertain to your domestic law.
European Union, so that you can undermine
this divorce tourism that is going on. But         THE CHAIRMAN:             Thank you very
it‟s very hard on some people, especially on       much, at least for recognizing that we have
women.                                             been honest enough in our replies, even
                                                   though we didn‟t agree with all the

members on all positions. If you don‟t have
any more questions....

want to say that it was very interesting for
us as members of the European Parliament
to learn about other member states. Also
to-day we have learnt a lot about the
Maltese and your way of life. Thank you
very much.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you also, it
was very nice having you here. If you have
time, the Speaker has kindly offered us a
little tour around the Palace.

Fis-7.27 p.m. aġġorna għal data li kellha
tiġi komunikata aktar tard.