During the last 20 years, the harmonisation of EC contract law has progressed considerably, particularly in the area of consumer contract law. Below is a timeline of the key background documents which accompanied the process of the formulation of the Common European Sales Law proposal.
Publication of the Expert Group's Feasibility Study 3 May 2011
On 3 May 2011 the Expert Group's feasibility study was published and interested parties were invited to give feedback.
Green Paper 2010 July
In July 2010 the Commission published a Green Paper on policy options for progress towards a European contract law for consumers and businesses which launched a public consultation.
Stockholm Programme 2010 May
In the context of the Stockholm Programme , the Council invited the Commission to submit a proposal on a common frame of reference.
2010 Establishment of the Expert Group on Contract Law and the Key Stakeholder Experts group
In 2010, an Expert Group on contract law and a Key Stakeholder Experts group were established to assist the Commission by drafting or providing input on a feasibility study and in making further progress on the development of a possible future European contract law instrument.
Draft Common Frame of Reference
At the end of 2008, European contact law experts delivered their academic Draft Common Frame of Reference (DCFR) which contained principles, definitions and model rules of contract law. It also contained comments (explaining each rule, often illustrating its application by means of examples) and notes (reflecting the legal position in the national legal systems and, where relevant, in current Community law or international instruments). Translation of the rules and comments into French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish will be uploaded soon. Notes are available in English only. For technical reasons, the English text was split in six volumes which were uploaded in three parts (Volume 1+2 , Volume 3+4 , Volume 5+6 ).
Preparation of the Common Frame of Reference (CFR)
Preparatory work for a draft CFR was carried out by an international network of researchers. The research work was financed by a grant under the 6th Framework Programme for research.
On 23 September 2005 the Commission adopted its First Progress Report on the Common Frame of Reference . In the report the Commission considered the CFR as a better regulation instrument with the purpose of ensuring consistency and good quality EC legislation in the area of contract law. It would contain clear definitions of legal terms, fundamental principles and coherent model rules of contract law to be used when revising existing and preparing new sectoral European legislation where such a need was identified.
A Second Progress Report on the CFR was adopted by the Commission on 27 July 2007. The Commission explained the reprioritisation of the preparation work on consumer contract law issues, reported on the substantive issues which arose during the CFR workshops as well as on the structure of the CFR.
The conclusions of the presidency of the European Council of June 2007 requested the Council "to continue its work on evaluating the consistency and coherence of the provisions of contract law in Community law, including consumer contract law."
In its Resolution of 3 September 2008 on the CFR for European contract law, the European Parliament supported the Commission's process of developing a CFR in the area of European contract law by putting forward a number of proposals for the future work.
In its 2004 Communication the Commission provided a more detailed outline of the development of the Common Frame of Reference.
2003 Action Plan
In light of the responses to the 2001 communication on Euorpean contract law, the Commission issued an Action Plan in 2003, proposing amongst others to improve the quality and coherence of European contract law by establishing a Common Frame of Reference containing clear definitions of legal terms, fundamental principles and coherent model rules of contract law.
2001 Communication on European contract law
With its 2001 Communication on European contract law the Commission launched a process of extensive public consultation on the problems arising from differences between Member States' contract laws and on potential actions in this field.
The responses to this consultation indicated a clear consensus on the necessity to improve the consistency of the existing EU contract law legislation for the sake of its uniform application and for the smoother functioning of the internal market.
Responses to the 2001 Communication