Chapter 1: Marriage in a European perspective
Is there a European ‘concept’ of marriage? In this chapter common developments relating to marriage in Europe are identified. More precisely, certain common interests or core values, which have been found worth protecting through legislation based on marriage over time and in different European countries, are identified and analysed. Sweden, which is internationally known for its ‘progressive’ laws relating to marriage and cohabitation models, is used as an example and a platform for international comparisons with France, Spain, Germany and The Netherlands. The idea is not to map different regulations based on marriage in Europe and compare them in detail. This has already been done by other legal scholars. Instead an ideological line of development will be illustrated, which became visible in Sweden in the 1920s and gradually in many other European countries since then. The European perspective on marriage also includes an analysis of relevant jurisprudence by the European Court of Human Rights (the Strasbourg Court), based on the European Convention of Human Rights (the ECHR) and dealing with civil status issues. The Strasbourg Court is a significant actor in the human rights arena in Europe with considerable impact on legal development in a wide range of European jurisdictions. The Strasbourg Court is not the only body dealing with human rights in Europe. Another actor which has become increasingly preoccupied with such issues is the European Union (EU).