Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christian Twigg-Flesner
Chapter 8: Free movement and contract law
The development of the European internal market to a large extent depends on the possibilities for free trade across Member States' borders. EU free movement rules facilitate such trade, as they aim at removing obstacles to import and export among Member States. As such, they shape the legal sphere within which private actors conclude transactions regarding employment, provision of services, sale of goods and access to capital. In the first place, the free movement rules require EU Member States to make sure that measures deriving from the domestic level do not unjustifiably discriminate among their own citizens and those from other countries – they, thus, have a vertical effect (in the relationship between citizen and State). In the second place, free movement law affects relations among private actors themselves, insofar as it influences which rules of national law govern private legal relationships and it may under certain circumstances even have a direct horizontal effect (in disputes among private parties). That EU free movements have an impact on the rules of contract law governing private legal relationships is, accordingly, no longer contested. To what extent they do so, however, is a matter that has raised controversy and continues to inspire case law from the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU). A central question is whether and to what effect free movement provisions can be invoked against private actors.
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