Client name: European Commission (EC)

Duration: 2012-2013

Location: European Union

Coffey undertook research to identify the best way for the European Commission to raise awareness of regulations regarding divorce and separation of international couples of across the European Union (EU).


There are about 16 million international couples living in the EU. As more and more people cross borders to travel, study or work, international family arrangements are becoming more commonplace.

At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of international families dealing with the consequences of divorce and separation. The legal questions that can arise from this are complicated by different nationalities and places of residence.

The European Commission (EC) has introduced several regulations that make it easier for international couples to identify which country’s rules apply in their case. However, these have not been communicated efficiently and consistently in Member States.

Coffey undertook research to identify the best way for the EC to raise awareness of these regulations across the European Union.

Coffey was chosen to not only evaluate best practice communications strategies, but also identify relevant actors at numerous levels of administration (national, regional and local) to improve communication channels. 


The evaluation needed to be evidence based and required a mixed-method approach. These methods included:

  • a review of similar of programs run by the Council of Europe
  • desk research to identify potential multipliers in all 28 member states
  • interviews with relevant EU level organisations
  • a survey of multipliers in 22 EU languages
  • interviews with national level representatives in a sample of member states


The evaluation delivered a comprehensive list of more than 1200 contacts for organisations in all member states that can assist the EC deliver relevant information to international couples across the EU.

We also made several recommendations to improve awareness of the EC’s legal tools and services regarding divorce and separation between international couples.

We recommended that the Commission:

  • develop workshops aimed at professional bodies in a sample of member states
  • create short, concise flyers to direct international couples to relevant information sources
  • develop a series of short infomercial video clips with succinct information messages
  • provide all relevant information in all EU languages as well as other important world languages such as Arabic and Russian
  • ensure a personal and direct approach to each organisation and multiplier working with the EC
  • set up a launch or closing event to facilitate discussion with key EU and national multipliers and the media