Another Look at the Eurobarometer Surveys

The current proposal for a Common European Sales Law (CESL) makes a number of empirical claims in support of its argument that differences in contract law among Member States are stifling trade, and that CESL will address these barriers to cross-border trade. These empirical claims rest largely on citations to a number of Flash Eurobarometer surveys and other surveys of businesses and consumers. A closer look at these surveys reveals that the cited statistics do not support the claims that contract-law-related obstacles present special barriers to cross-border trade for small- and medium-sized enterprises and consumers. Instead, a more ambiguous picture emerges – one that may cast doubt on several of the design features of CESL. I conclude that a more careful assessment of the empirical foundations for CESL (whether in its current or a revised form) is necessary.