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At its current stage, European private law is still more an aspiration than a reality. It is true that there is a substantial body of European private law on the Union level; and it is also true that there are private law principles and rules shared by many—often by most, and sometimes even by all—European legal systems. Still, in most areas, we do not at present have one body of positive private law for all of Europe, but rather a coexistence of more or less similar national laws. Thus, to the extent one considers a European private law desirable, one must seek to unify, or at least heavily harmonise, the current multitude of national regimes. In short, European private law today is essentially a legal unification project.


Published as Halberstam, Daniel and Mathias Reimann. "Top-Down or Bottom-Up? A Look at the Unification of Private Law in Federal Systems." In The Foundations of European Private Law, edited by Roger Brownsword, Hans-W Micklitz, Leone Niglia, and Stephen Weatherill, 363-377. Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2011. Available from Bloomsbury Publishing.