EAPIL Working Group on the Feasibility of a European Private International Law Act

Chair and contact

Thomas Kadner Graziano (Thomas.Kadner@unige.ch).

Type of Group

Working Group with a limited number of participants.

Current members

  • Apostolos Anthimos
  • Pedro De Miguel Asensio
  • Thomas Kadner Graziano
  • Eva-Maria Kieninger
  • Dario Moura Vicente
  • Marta Requejo Isidro
  • Giesela Rühl

Consultative Committee

The Committee is in the process of being constituted.

Mission statement

Over the last two decades, the number of European private international law Regulations has increased with breath-taking speed. These Regulations have remedied many uncertainties that resulted from the fact that the EU Member States applied diverging private international law rules. Yet, it has become increasingly difficult to find one’s way through the large number of specific regulations, at times with overlapping scopes of application. Even specialists in this field risk losing their bearings.

Against this background, the question arises whether the time has come 1) to consolidate the private international law rules of the EU in a single instrument and 2) to fill the gaps in the current regulatory framework? The first EAPIL Working, established in early 2020, will deal with these questions and undertake to prepare a first draft for a (comprehensive) European Private International Law Act (EuPIL Act).

Challenges and aims

In 2012, the European Parliament published a Study on “A European Framework for private international law: current gaps and future perspectives”.[1] The authors of the Study concluded that it would be too complex to codify and close the gaps at the same time and, therefore, suggested that the gaps should be closed first, while leaving a comprehensive codification for a later day.

The members of the EAPIL Working Group agree with this view. However, they believe that in light of the high complexity of the current European framework for private international law, we are well advised to commence preparatory work for a comprehensive EuPIL Act rather sooner than later. This is because such an Act will make European private international law more transparent, and infinitely more accessible and user-friendly for citizens and practitioners. It is, therefore, the aim of the EAPIL Working Group to provide academic input for further legislative steps, both with regard to consolidating the present acquis and with regard to closing gaps.

Having said that, there is no doubt that the preparation of a draft EuPIl Act will take some time and that the Working Group will have to answer a number of difficult questions along the way. To give just a few examples:

  • Should a comprehensive EuPIL Act have a general part? If so which of the rules and principles that are currently to be found in existing Regulations could be integrated into that part (hereby avoiding the parallelism, repetition, and occasional contradiction of rules in the current regulations)?
  • Where are the gaps regarding provisions on general issues (e.g. a general definition of habitual residence of natural persons, characterization, evasion of law, incidental questions, the application of foreign law, the name of natural persons, etc.), and how should they be filled?
  • Should the project be limited to issues currently covered by the Brussels I as well as the Rome I and II Regulations? Or should the project also cover family law and the law of successions (i.e. to issues currently covered by the Rome III and IV Regulations)? If so, how should a comprehensive EuPIL Act deal with the different territorial scope of application of these Regulations?
  • Which structure should be used to make a comprehensive PIL Act as transparent and user-friendly as possible? As of now, the most comprehensive codification of PIL in the world is the one to be found in Switzerland, with a PIL Act containing 225 articles. Some 30 years after its entry into force, after some major reforms, and despite some current need for reform in detail, the Swiss PIL Act is still coherent, user-friendly and works perfectly well in practice. Could the legislation of countries already having comprehensive PIL acts, and in particular Switzerland, serve as a source of inspiration for a EuPIL Act?
  • How shall the EuPIL be coordinated with international conventions that are in force in some Member States but not in others and national PIL rules?
  • Do the current Regulations need to be improved, amended, or reformed?
Scope and approach

The work of the Group will build primarily on the existing EU Regulations. Proposals for reform will be limited to issues that have proven to be particularly problematic in practice and in the case law of the CJEU in particular. Where proposals for gap filling are made, the Group will primarily attempt to discover, wherever possible, common principles for the issue under examination. Politically sensitive or controversial issues will be left to more specialized working groups (such as whether the rules on jurisdiction shall be further extended to defendants not domiciled in EU Member States; whether common rules on the recognition and enforcement of judgments issued in third States should be adopted; or whether common rules on arbitration shall be created).

The Working Group will include members, involve experts, and take inspiration, from as many countries as possible, including EU and non-EU countries. The closing of some of the gaps may in parallel be addressed by other, more specific EAPIL Working Groups (e.g. working groups on private international law rules on property law; agency; corporations; trusts; marriage; the relations between spouses; paternity; and possibly arbitration), with all Groups ideally being in close consultation with each other. Together with these groups the EAPIL Working Group on the Feasibility of a European Private International Law Act will hopefully pave the way for a comprehensive EuPIL Act in the medium and long run.

[1] Xandra Kramer, Michiel de Rooij,  Vesna Lazic et al, A European framework for private international law: current gaps and future perspectives, PE 462.487.