The rules of succession have as their purpose the transfer of the ownership of the goods of the deceased to his successors and the determination of their obligations in relation to the payment of his debts. Closely linked with the law of property, this area of law has numerous national peculiarities which make it more difficult to settle matters of succession in cases with connections to several jurisdictions. Harmonisation at the European level is therefore desirable.
The author describes the principle approaches to succession applied in the Member States to the European Union, in accordance with a bipartite division of the material - concerning respectively succession to the assets and to the debts of the deceased. He then sets out a theoretical model of an ideal regulation of succession, which would satisfy all the competing interests. This model could form the basis of a regulation of the matter common to all Member States.
The choice of the method of harmonisation depends on its suitability to the law of succession. Among the methods available (substantive community law, case law of the European courts, spontaneous convergence of domestic legislation, multilateral treaties), a treaty creating a uniform law appears to be the best way forward. The states which conclude a treaty of this kind undertake to replace their former legislation with uniform rules, without allowing any reservations. Community law provides a legal framework favouring the conclusion of a treaty of this kind (Article 220, Treaty of Rome) and the American example of the Uniform Probate Code confirms that a project of this kind would have a good chance of success.European Review of Private Law