In a vote last week, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament approved by a large majority the European Commission’s proposal for a Common European Sales Law (“CESL”), which was published in October 2011. The proposal provides for a new set of contract law rules that can be chosen to govern cross-border contracts (see here for more detail). The Committee supports limiting the scope of the CESL to contracts involving distance selling, particularly online transactions.

The Commission’s press release describes the vote as a “real breakthrough”, saying it is an important signal from the European Parliament that the CESL is the right tool for cutting transactions costs and boosting cross-border online shopping. Removing barriers to cross-border trade is the key aim of the CESL proposal. 

The proposal is opposed by the UK government, whose response last November concluded that there are fundamental flaws in both the principle and the practical operation of the CESL (see here for more detail). The UK response called on the Commission to reconsider its plans. The recent vote suggests, however, that there remains strong support for the proposal in the European Parliament.