Alpa provides an examination of the problems and prospects for the development of a European private law. As a protagonist of the harmonisation of private law through codification, he first identifies the work in progress and some of the broad issues that have had to be addressed (such as the need to develop rules that transcend national characterisations of sphere of private law and the distinction between civil and commercial laws). He then sets out the advantages of a unified private law: rules in conflict between themselves in the various countries of the European Union can develop as a real market hindrance, while uniform private law rules emerge as conditions precedent for the implementation of the single market.
Projects directed towards the harmonisation of private law through codification have faced various criticisms. Alpa tries to address these. He notes first the trend towards convergence of (some aspects of) national laws that has been observed by comparative lawyers and the existence of unifying frameworks such as the constitutional law of the EU and the European Convention on Human Rights. He then briefly addresses three particular issues: (i) the problems allegedly created by the difference between common law and civil law structures, (ii) claims concerning value of legal pluralism and the undesirability of eliminating national cultural characteristics, and (iii) the argument that techniques of harmonisation other than the drafting of a Civil Code are more appropriate.
The paper concludes with a note on issues of the drafting and structure of a possible future Code.European Review of Private Law