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European Commission to propose additional contract law in October

The European Commission is preparing a legislative proposal for an optional European contract law to be presented in October, as it believes differences in contract law may hinder cross-border trade for both SMEs and consumers buying across borders as well as for some insurance companies.

The Commission wants to start a dialogue with the insurance sector about the possible added value of an optional European Insurance Contract Law, on which work could start in 2012.

Reding (pictured) will also discuss the follow-up to the Court of Justice of the European Union's 1 March Test-Achats ruling on gender discrimination in insurance pricing, limitation periods for civil claims arising from road traffic accidents and insurance-related implications of collective redress proceedings.

In the Test-Achats case of 1 March 2011, the Court of Justice found that the principle of equal treatment for women and men should apply to insurance premiums and ruled that an exemption in EU non-discrimination legislation is invalid, with effect from the end of 2012.

Following the ruling, vice-president Reding announced that she would convene a meeting with business leaders from the insurance industry to discuss the judgement's implications.

The objective of today's meeting is to discuss how the industry can adapt to the Court's ruling. It will feed into guidelines that the Commission aims to adopt by the end of 2011, one year ahead of the deadline to comply with the ruling.

"The Court of Justice's ruling in the Test-Achats case is final and binding," said Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner. "The Commission's role is now to ensure that the judgment is properly implemented while guaranteeing legal certainty. That's why the Commission is working on guidelines that could be issued by the end of this year so that the insurance sector can comply with the ruling by the end of 2012."

Another on the agenda will be the limitation periods for civil claims arising from road traffic accidents abroad.

As a result, the Commission believes victims of road traffic accidents abroad may run the risk of receiving no compensation for harm suffered due to particularly short limitation periods applicable in the EU country where the accident occurred.

The Commission intends to launch a public consultation on the matter before the end of the year. This is a follow-up from a previous consultation carried out by the Commission in 2009 and ongoing work on improving the rights of crime victims.

Among those taking part are:
- Sergio Balbinot, president, European Insurance Federation, and CEO of Generali
- Paul Carty, chairman, European Federation of Insurance Intermediaries
- Bart De Smet, CEO, Ageas Insurance
- Peter Eichler, member of management board, UNIQA Personenversicherung AG
- Juan Fernández Palacios CEO/President, Mapfre Caja Madrid Life
- Dr Jörg Freiherr Frank von Fürstenwerth, chairman, GDV (Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft e.V.)
- Gabriele Galateri, chairman, Generali Group
- Asmo Kalpala, president, Associaton of Mutual Insurers and Insurance Cooperatives in Europe
- Michaela Koller, director general, CEA (European Insurance Federation)
- George Kotsalos, CEO, Interamerican Group
- Xavier Larnaudie-Eiffel, deputy CEO, CNP Assurances
- Amanda Mackenzie, member of group executive board, Aviva
- Alison Martin, member of group management board, Swiss RE
- Dr Markus Rieβ, CEO, Allianz Deutschland AG
- Bernard Spitz, chairman, Fédération française des sociétés d'assurances
- Otto Thoresen, director general, Association of British Insurers
- Björn Wahlroos, chairman, Nordea

This article first appear on sister site to The Actuary, Insurance Insight.