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The Politics of a European Civil Code

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Last year the European Commission published its Action Plan on European contract law. That plan forms an important step towards a European Civil Code. In its Plan, the Commission tries to depoliticise the codification process by asking a group of academic experts to prepare what it calls a ‘common frame of reference’. This paper argues that drafting a European Civil Code involves making many choices that are essentially political. It further argues that the technocratic approach which the Commission has adopted in the Action Plan effectively excludes most stakeholders from having their say during the stage when the real choices are made. Therefore, before the drafting of the CFR/ECC starts, the Commission should submit 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 repoliticise the process. It would increase the democratic basis for a European Civil Code and thus its legitimacy.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Universiteit van Amsterdam, and the Amsterdam Institute for Private Law (AIP)

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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