The European Commission has announced that it will examine barriers to cross-border trade in the insurance sector. An expert group will be convened to determine the extent to which differences in contract law between EU member states hinder the cross-border provision of insurance services, and identify which insurance products are most affected. The group will bring together key stakeholders, including insurance providers and representatives of businesses and consumers. The initiative will likely focus on insurance products of greater economic significance, such as motor, travel and life insurance.

In recent years, the Commission and Parliament of the European Union have pushed for greater uniformity in contract law across the EU, which they consider will benefit both businesses and consumers. The insurance sector stands out as one where cross-border activity remains particularly low. Following a public consultation launched by the Commission in 2010, insurers indicated that it was not currently possible to offer uniform insurance products across the EU and complained of additional costs and legal uncertainty resulting from differences in contract laws between member states. In June 2011, the European Parliament passed a resolution supporting the Commission’s attempts to promote greater uniformity in contract law. This resolution emphasised the benefits of including insurance contracts in any common legal framework.

An expert group will be convened to determine the extent to which differences in contract law between EU member states hinder the cross-border provision of insurance services, and identify which insurance products are most affected. The group will bring together key stakeholders, including insurance providers and representatives of businesses and consumers. The initiative will likely focus on insurance products of greater economic significance, such as motor, travel and life insurance.

The expert group will report its findings at the end of 2013. Depending on the findings of this group, the Commission may then undertake further analysis of the situation, or it may take corrective action to remove any identified barriers. One popular proposal is the publication of an optional European Insurance Contract Law, which could be applied to insurance contracts by the express agreement of the parties and which would be interpreted and enforced in a uniform manner across the EU.