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The Politics of a European Civil Code

48 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2008  

Martijn W. Hesselink

University of Amsterdam - Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL)

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In 2003, the European Commission published its Action Plan on European contract law. That plan formed an important step towards a European Civil Code. In its Plan the Commission tried to depoliticise the codification process by asking a group of academic experts to prepare what it called a 'common frame of reference'. This paper, published in the European Law Journal in 2004, argued that drafting a European Civil Code involves making many choices which are essentially political. It further argued that the technocratic approach which the Commission had adopted in the Action Plan effectively excluded most stakeholders from having their say during the stage when the real choices were made. Therefore, before the drafting of the CFR/ECC starts, the Commission should have submitted a list of policy questions regarding the main issues of European private law to the European Parliament and the other stakeholders. Such an alternative procedure would have repoliticised the process. It would have increased the democratic basis for a European Civil Code and thus its legitimacy.

Keywords: European Contract Law, Civil Code, Politics

Suggested Citation

Hesselink, Martijn W., The Politics of a European Civil Code. European Law Journal, Vol. 10, No. 6, 2004. Available at SSRN:

Martijn W. Hesselink (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL) ( email )

University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law
P.O. Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000 BA

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