The current legal situation for traders who offer their goods and services in the EU, i.e. in various European legal systems, is – to put it carefully – confusing. Consumer protection has now been largely harmonized and will undergo further changes in Germany from June 13, 2014. However, each EU state still has its own regulations that are not regulated uniformly, for example in the area of general terms and conditions. Having legal certainty in every EU state is associated with high costs, which particularly prevent small and medium-sized companies from boldly organizing sales throughout the EU.
The – planned – Common European Sales Law should apply in every EU state in addition to the respective national regulations and should not replace them. A corresponding choice of law is therefore necessary. The advantage is that legal uncertainty should be largely ruled out because this common European sales law applies equally in all countries. A high level of consumer protection is also guaranteed in this Common European Sales Law. However, this has the advantage for entrepreneurs that consumers are more likely to agree to a corresponding choice of law. In return, companies receive legal certainty for their sales.
It remains to be seen whether and how the member states will agree on the introduction of the Common European Sales Law, in particular whether it only applies to distance selling contracts. In addition, the important practical question of the legal enforcement of claims has not been answered. Entrepreneurs should nevertheless monitor developments in order to be up to date.
Dr. Christian Andrelang