Chapter 12: Governance Implications for the European Union of the Changing Character of Private Law
Hugh Collins How should the European Union develop and maintain an appropriate system of private law? This broad question makes a number of contestable assumptions, not least that the European Union should be meddling with private law at all. Although this chapter touches indirectly on the issues of the competence, utility, and legitimacy of proposals for development of European private law,1 its central focus concerns more detailed and consequential issues that arise once the decision to embark on the creation of European private law has been taken. Following that momentous decision, the question becomes: how should such projects for harmonisation or approximation of all or part of private law be managed and developed in the European Union? More particularly, is the task confronting Europe today basically the same as that undertaken by nation states in the nineteenth century? Following that experience, when legislators and scholars constructed systemic elaborations of private law rules and principles, usually in the form of a code, a method which was subsequently copied around the world, should the European Union aim to 1 The European Commission makes several proposals that fall short of full uniformity in private law in: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, European Contract Law and the revision of the acquis: the way forward, Brussels, 11.10.2004, COM (2004) 651 final. The European Parliament has, however, resolved on many occasions that Europe should develop a civil code: OJ C 158, 26.6.1989, p. 400; OJ C 205, 25.7.1994, p....
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