The Impact of EU Enlargement on Private Law Governance in Central and Eastern Europe: The Case of Consumer Protection
MAKING EUROPEAN PRIVATE LAW: GOVERNANCE DESIGN, pp. 98-137, Fabrizio Cafaggi and Horatia Muir Watt, eds., Edward Elgar, 2008
58 Pages Posted: 30 May 2010
Date Written: January 1, 2008
This paper aims to identify and analyse patterns of influence of EU enlargement over the design of private law governance in the New Member States from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Since the early 1990s the legal systems of these countries have undergone major restructuring to face the challenges of democracy and a regulated market economy. These fundamental transformations have required redefining the domain of private law, its relation viz. government and regulation and the institutional framework supporting both private and public law. The question is in what ways EU accession interacts with and moulds the process of post-communist transformation of private law governance.
The more specific focus of the study is the influence of enlargement on consumer law governance in the CEECs. Consumer protection is one area where the ‘intrusion’ of Community law in the domain of national private law is particularly tangible. While it is intertwined with core areas of private law, such as contract and tort, it also intersects with areas of market regulation, such as competition law, unfair competition law and product control. This makes the choice between different modes of governance particularly challenging.
Through the analysis of the impact of enlargement on consumer law governance in the CEECs the ambition is to capture the dynamics of Europeanisation on a broader basis. I argue that the process of Eastward enlargement has ushered the European Union in an era of bolder meddling in national institutional choices and in defining the role of public vis-à-vis private actors (and of the state vis-à-vis the individual) in governing economic and social relations. Despite claims of institutional autonomy and procedural neutrality, and despite attempts to keep a broad spectrum of governance options open, the evidence gathered in this study suggests that the process of European integration tends to steer institutional choice toward reliance on public institutions and centralised, top-down forms of governance. It is therefore submitted that efforts should be made to expose such in-built biases and to critically analyse their sometimes unintended effects on private law governance in the EU Member States.
Keywords: private law, governance, Central and Eastern Europe, Europeanisation, enforcement, institutional design
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation