Common European Sales Law Unlocking the Potential of the EU market?
Anthony Kenny, European Counsel, The Boston Consulting Group Inc, UK
On 3rd June 2011 Viviane Reding Vice-President of the European Commission ("VP Reding) delivered a key-note speech – "The Next Steps towards a European Contract law for Businesses and Consumers" and announced the intention to introduce a Common European Sales Law Optional Instrument ("CESL"). The speech of VP Reding is a good starting point when considering CESL as it provides a short summary of what is a long history of attempts to harmonise EU Contract law. It is noteworthy that although CESL is positioned as an optional instrument and focused on sales law the speech was delivered at a conference reviewing the future of not just sales law but the much broader topic of European Contract law. VP Reding states; "In many ways, today is a "moment of truth" for European Contract Law."
The rationale for CESL is to increase trade between member states and to tackle the challenge that Europe has at least 28 different legal systems and therefore 28 different sets of contract law. A series of studies (Flash Barometer surveys) commissioned by the Commission determined that creating a new contract sales law is key to addressing the lack of cross-border trade in the EU. The answers to questions raised in the survey suggest that the patchwork of laws is perceived as an obstacle and barrier to an increase in the flow of trade in the EU.
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