Engel and Stark, ‘The CESL as a European Brand – Paypalizing European Contract Law’

According to the Commission, the main political goal behind the Common European Sales Law (CESL) is advancing cross-border trade between EU member states, thereby helping to further establish and strengthen a common market within the EU. The CESL is chosen and even symbolized by an already legendary blue button that consumers have to push in order to opt into the new European law.

However, the blue button is more than a mere technicality: It aims at increasing consumer trust in cross-border trade by using the (expectedly) positive signaling effect of the European brand. Thus, if traders know that consumers are more likely to engage in cross-border trade on the basis of the CESL than by relying on a national contract law, offering to contract on this basis will be attractive to them for precisely this reason. If a CESL offer can be expected to increase consumers’ trust in a prospective transaction, traders will be able to use such an offer as a marketing instrument.

A similar branding strategy is known from the US online payment service PayPal who has established its “payment trust button” already a decade ago. The present article deals with the question to what extent PayPal’s success story can be transferred to European contract law and what lessons the European legislator can learn from it. Could the CESL with its blue button potentially become a new, PayPal-like mechanism for consumer protection by creating and strengthening consumer trust in cross-border trade?

Engel, Martin and Stark, Johanna, The CESL as a European Brand – Paypalizing European Contract Law (April 7, 2013).

First posted 2013-04-08 16:22:08

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