The concern for justice in the context of EU contract law was central to a scholarly initiative that led, in 2004, to the publication of a Social Justice Manifesto. The Manifesto had the explicit goal of steering the Commission’s harmonization agenda away from purely neoliberal goals and towards a socially conscious law of private exchange. Contract law would be designed at the EU level so as to become (or remain, depending on the baseline of each member state) palatable to weaker parties. Today, in the many parts of Europe devastated by rising poverty, dire unemployment rates, and collapsing social safety nets, the Manifesto needs to be revised. When the very access to the market place is foreclosed by indigence and marginalization, the promise of contracts that would be sweet toward the vulnerable has the flavor of Marie Antoinette’s brioche. This essay revisits the situational premises of the Manifesto, acknowledges its accomplishments, identifies its limits, and outlines possibilities for its renewal, both within its original framework and beyond.
Caruso, Daniela, Qu’Ils mangent des contrats: Rethinking Justice in EU Contract Law (July 22, 2013). G. de Burca, D. Kochenov and A. Williams (eds.), Europe’s Justice Deficit? (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2014, Forthcoming); Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 13-29.