Which countries have a uniform civil code

14.01.1999 13:51

Basis for a European civil code - ambitious project is about to begin

Dr. Andreas Archut Press and public relations
German Research Foundation (DFG)

With the introduction of the euro on January 1st, European unification took a big step forward. The borders between the EU member states are becoming less and less important. Nevertheless, they still separate the areas of application of different legal systems in Europe. With the support of the German Research Foundation (DFG), German scientists are now beginning to develop the basis for a common European civil code that will unite the previously separate legal systems. In doing so, they will work with research partners from all jurisdictions of the European Union as well as from EU membership candidates from neighboring Eastern European countries. Osnabrück lawyer Professor Dr. Christian von Bar coordinates the project that he and Professor Dr. Ulrich Dobnig and Dr. Jürgen Basedow from the Hamburg Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law.

"We want to unearth the treasure of the knowledge and experience gained in national rights," says Professor von Bar, "and make it available to everyone in a bundle." Creating the basis for a European civil code is the greatest task facing European legal scholars in the 21st century. With the single market now having a common currency, the need for property law applicable throughout Europe has increased enormously.

The European lawyers not only lack a uniform set of rules, says von Bar, they often do not even know where they agree on the matter and where they do not. Therefore, the project begins with a systematic inventory: In detailed comparative analyzes of the legal systems valid in the member states of the European Union, the basic rules of civil property law are to be worked out. In addition, the lawyers want to identify the need for harmonization in the national legal systems, point out possible alternatives and name their advantages and disadvantages.

In 1993, Professor von Bar was awarded the Leibniz Prize, the most highly endowed German science prize, from the DFG. In the past five years he has already examined and systematized the European tort law with the help of the prize money of 1.5 million marks. One volume with the results has already been published, the second will follow later this year.

The German Research Foundation will fund the project with around 2.2 million marks (1.13 million euros) over the next two years. A further 1.1 million marks (0.56 million euros) have been promised for the third year of the project. The respective national funding organizations have not yet agreed to finance the sub-projects of the European research partners. The project is scheduled to run for a total of six years.

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