This joint response of the Commission on European Contract Law and the Study Group on a European Civil Code to the European Commission's Communication on European Contract Law outlines the difficulties confronting businesses and consumers in ascertaining foreign private law and the economic ramifications of legal diversity for the EU internal market. It demonstrates the limitations of freedom of choice of law and private autonomy and identifies inescapable distortions of competition. Considering the inextricable relevance of non-contractual liability and matters of property law, the response urges that measures in the field of contract law be contemplated only as part of a broad systematic view of European patrimonial law.
To overcome manifest problems of legal diversity, the joint response rejects leaving further development to market forces (Option I). Endorsing Option II, it advocates further work in formulating Principles of European patrimonial law of the type which the Commission has published and the Study Group is extending — both for their own sake as 'soft law' and as a pre-requisite for possible future legislation. Improving the quality of existing Community law (Option III) is considered desirable, but inadequate as a self-standing objective. The response concludes with a potential phased plan towards harmonising core areas of private law (Option IV).European Review of Private Law