Harmonisation of european contract law: Slowly but surely?

Author:Gema Tomás
Position:Associate Professor, PhD, Faculty of Law, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
Pages:7-15
LESIJ NO. XX, VOL. 1/2013
HARMONISATION OF EUROPEAN CONTRACT LAW: SLOWLY
BUT SURELY?
Gema TOMÁS
Abstract
This paper deal s with the harmonisation of European Contract Law from a gradual point of view.
The main objective is to show the different academic and official steps carried out in this field. The so
called Commission on European Contract Law under the leadership of Professor Ole Lando was the
starting point in 1982. Some international research teams set up by European scholars and lawyers have
been devoted to this aim for two decades. Time and effort have been made in the academic level to get a
serious advance on bringing closer contractual national rules. This bottom-up approach met a stronger
support in the last years although the European Parliament had “requested” the creation of a European
Civil Code already in 1989. The momentous time comes in 2010 with a Green Paper from the European
Commission on policy options for progress towards a European Contract Law for consumers and
businesses. This Green Paper opened a public consultation period in 2011 and afterwards an expert group
was appointed to draft a feasibility study for a future Instrument in European Contract Law. After all, a
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Common European Sales
Law was adopted in October 2011 arising not few doubts, worries and misgivings from different points of
view. This will be not the last step in this process.
Keywords: Harmonisation, European Contract Law, Private Law, Common Sales Law, Consumer
Acquis.
Introduction
In the next pages we will try to give an overall impression of the harmonisation of
European Contract Law from a gradual perspective f rom the beginning to the current proposal
for a Common of European Sales Law. Academic works and European official rules have paved
the way for more than two d ecades since the well-known Principles of European Con tract Law
were published. These Principles were drafted by an internat ional research team under the
leadership of Professor Ole Lando. It started in 1982 and later on some international research
teams set up by European scholars and lawyers have devoted time and effort to th is aim in
several projects. We will track these academic works interrelated with the European
Commission initiatives. The paper deals with the most relevant academic literature on these
initiatives.
This issue is relevant now, more than ever, because it is drawing the attention of every
European Private Law jurist since a Green Paper from the European Commission on policy
options for progress towards a European Contract Law was published in 2010. A public
consultation period was launched for a sho rt period of time. In a few months European
Commission decided to appoint an expert group to draft a feasibility study for a fu ture
Instrument in European Contract Law and soon we all could read a Proposal for a Regulation of
the European Parliament and of the Coun cil on a Common European Sales Law in the European
Official Journal (October 2011). It is the first time we are before an initiative of this kind: a set
of European Common rules on sales law (including related services such as instalment or repair,
and digital content supply). As a Regulation the Proposal is considered a relevant step forward
Associate Professor, PhD, Faculty of Law, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain (email:
gema.tomas@deusto.es).

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