The European Legal Studies Institute, the successor to the Institute for European law and the Institute for International Private Law is part of the University of Osnabrück and aims to become one of the leading European research institutions for comparative law and the harmonisation of European law.
The Institute's Director, Professor von Bar was the Chairman and one of the founders of the Study Group on a European Civil Code. Financed by the European Commission via a grant under the 6th Framework Programme for Research, the Study Group was an academic network of over 100 jurists from every jurisdiction of the European Union. The work and findings of this Study Group, as well as those of its predecessor, the Commission on European Contract Law (the "Lando-Commission"), established a framework for the resulting deliberations on the need to harmonise substantive private law in the European Union. The analytical findings of the Study Group led to the publication of an academic Draft Common Frame of Reference which is envisaged as a reference point for a future Common Frame of Reference.
The primary research focus of the European Legal Studies Institute is not the conventional analysis of the European Treaties or the secondary legislation of the European Institutions. Instead, the guiding principle is a pan-European comparative legal approach in the field of private law. The realisation is that divergences in the respective private law systems of the Member States frequently transpire to be merely differences of opinion when subjected to a problem- orientated analysis and that the same end result is intended to be achieved. The primary and secondary Community law lays the framework for this European synthesis of law and is also the subject of analysis.
The "research mission" of the ELSI is to elevate this approach to a higher level by examining and expanding upon previous research endeavours in private law. Above all, prior findings and the experience gained thereby is transferable and can be utilised to research other branches of law. The approach to research outlined above could find additional application in the as yet uncharted branches of private law of relevance to the internal market given that this is of fundamental significance for companies which operate on a cross-border basis throughout the EU.
It is thereby intended that a particular qualitative improvement will be achieved by the inclusion of administrative law within the Institute's remit. The rationale is that administrative law is more territorially (nationally) based than private law and is shaped by the national political systems of the member states which may diverge considerably. European constitutional law is also of relevance given that a true understanding of the regime of administrative law is impossible without it.