The newly sealed pact between 14 EU states aimed at allowing divorcing couples of different nationalities to pick the national law they want for their breakup, was approved by the European parliament on Wednesday.
The deal will let these 14 countries go their own way on binational divorces without having to wait for the rest of the European Union's 13 members to join the system.
AdvertisementUnder the new arrangement, couples would know in advance which law was applicable to their divorce, and there would be clear rules for cases where no law had been pre-selected.
The deal marks the first time that a so-called "enhanced cooperation" mechanism between a club of nations within the 27-nation bloc will have been used.
The breakaway pact marks a significant extension of the process that allowed an inner core of EU countries to set up the euro currency, or others to remain outside the continental border-free Schengen area.
The agreement was approved on June 4 by EU justice ministers.
The parliament approved the use of the "enhanced cooperation" procedure Wednesday by a 615-30 vote. The legislature will be consulted again on the details of the text.
The pact seeks to give couples the right to choose to divorce in countries of origin or their common country of residence.
"I'm very pleased the European parliament has taken such quick action to add its support so hundreds of thousands of international couples can start benefiting from this measure," said Viviane Reding, European commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship.
The 14 nations that are part of the pact are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.
While countries including Britain chose to remain outside the group, they nevertheless gave the nod to the agreement.
The system of "enhanced cooperation" was introduced under the Lisbon Treaty which finally entered force in December last year after years of political wrangling.
Supporters claim that applying the system in this area could potentially slash lawyers' fees for divorces in these countries.
Originally, backers wanted to clamp down on so-called divorce shopping where nationality or the place where a marriage took place can give one spouse an unfair advantage.
Critics, though, say the system will end up creating rings of "Europe within Europe."
Sweden previously blocked attempts to harmonise divorce law across the 27 EU states.