EUROHYPOTHEC PROJECT

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Ever since 2003 several different Spanish researchers have been working on the “Eurohypothec Project”, the objective of which is to continue the research begun in the 1960s in Europe and continued by several researchers, such as Dr. Otmar Stöcker or the VdP, regarding the creation of a common European hypotec, or mortgage, the “eurohypothec”. This research group has contributed to publications like the “Basic Guidelines for a Eurohypothec” (Warsaw, 2005) or the appearance of the “eurohypothec  in the European Union’s Green Book on the creation of a European mortgage market (2005). The results played a role in several legislative amendments in the the mortgage market in both France (2006) and Spain (2007), the creation of the Central American Hypothec and dozens of research works.

Below we reproduce the full contents of the original web site of the group (www.eurohypothec.com). For more information please also see this and this.

Origin of the Eurohypothec

The desire to create a real guarantee of rights in rem that is common to all of Europe (eurohypothec) dates back almost to the creation of the European Community itself.

The first work on the subject was drafted by Prof. Claudio Segré in the 1960s, having been commissioned by EC institutions, although it was never put into practice. Then, in the 1970s, the Max Planck Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht in Hamburg wrote a report (1971) on the need to harmonise mortgages around Europe, which was followed by a report on mortgage loans by the European Economic Community’s Banking Federation (1973), which defended the idea of the owner’s mortgage as a possible way to achieve such harmonisation.

The name “eurohypothec”, which we have chosen for this project, was established by the Latin Notaries’ Union in a report that they drew up in 1987 and sent to the European Commission, which used the Swiss Schuldbrief as a model for a common hypothec for the first time.

Ever since then, the harmonisation of a common hypothec for all of Europe has been the subject of doctrinal study, with different works having been written, especially by German authors like WEHRENS, STÖCKER, WACHTER and BERNSTORFF. The doctrinal debate centres around different questions regarding the eurohypothec, among which we could highlight the proposals relating to a eurohypothec that could be either dependent or independent, on whether it needs to be completely regulated by EU legislation, on its possible incorporation into the hypothetical European Civil Code, etc. To this we must add the lack of a financial analysis of the advantages that would be involved in a common right in rem for mortgages around Europe, as well as complying with the provisions of articles 3 and 67 of the Constitutional Treaty of the European Community.

In recent times, the question of having a common mortgage at a European level has been of great interest to the European Mortgage Federation (www.hypo.org), which has created several commissions and had several reports put together, although the former have not been productive (too many specific state interests) and the latter have not been sufficiently accurate.

Thus, the eurohypothec has been discussed at a European level for about 40 years, and yet there is still no pan-European research group specifically dedicated to dealing with the problems that this right in rem entails, given that it is directly related to the situation and idiosyncrasies of each State, unlike what happens with contracts and liability. Consequently, there is a real need for a research group working specifically on the common European mortgage.

Official studies in Europe have not reached any definitive conclusion and there is still no unanimity in the doctrine regarding which is the best mortgage model to satisfy the diverse European legislations and to service the interests of the transnational market.

Aims of the Research

This research group has three main objectives:

1. To establish the need and the suitability of the existence of a common hypothec for whole of Europe. The fact that the national hypothecs are efficient in their respective countries does not mean that they are also efficient when they secure trans-national credits (up to 14 different hypothecs). So this is an interdisciplinary group (jurists and economists); both disciplines will make a list of advantages of a eurohypothec for both the mortgagees (credit institutions) and the mortgagors (credit borrowers).

2. To do a comparative scientific work about the different national mortgages to find the common core of all of them. The countries that will be incorporated into the EU in 2004 will also be included.

3. To write a Law/Directive Project about the Eurohypothec, taking into account: the needs of the national laws and the efficiency of this new institution (i.e. it can be an independent hypothec, although this is not the more widespread model in Europe). This project will be adapted to the economic theories of law, so we will find an institution that is both legally and economically efficient.

Current situation for transnational mortgage lending in Europe

We can see an approximation of the situation as regards mortgage lending in Europe in the recent report by the European Mortgage Federation “Recommendations for the Improvement of the Efficiency of Mortgage Collateral” (April 2013).

The essential feature among the different models is fractioning, which makes it very difficult to have a true pan-European mortgage credit, meaning that lending institutions cannot compete in equal conditions in any member State (there are differences as regards the time it takes to establish the credit, the model and the competent authority), preventing a situation whereby those who need a loan can benefit from one.

Even though every jurisdiction seems to have a system that is efficient for its needs, there is room for improvement, especially in terms of the time needed to register a mortgage loan, the expenses, simplicity, transparency, access to records, the transferability of mortgages and the exequatur among jurisdictions. Every credit institution that decides to operate in another country must, necessarily, acquire information beforehand regarding the mortgage requirements in that country (which is even more important with the adhesion of new EU member States).

The mortgage model that is most frequent in Europe is that of the accessory mortgage to the loan guaranteed in each case. This entails a series of difficulties and a rigidity that could be overcome with the regulation of a eurohypothec that is not accessory to the loans guaranteed. Apart from Sweden, Germany and Austria, there is no mortgage that matches this description in any jurisdiction in the EU, which provides a comparative advantage to those States where this type of mortgage already exists:

  • Flexibility in that one can negotiate the credit and the mortgage separately.
  • The possibility of guaranteeing several loans from a single lender with the same mortgage.
  • The possibility of having syndicated loans with fewer expenses and greater speed.
  • The possibility of the mortgage being converted into a security that can be easily negotiated at a European level.
  • Better mortgage refinancing for mortgage borrowers, who will be able to change to a different lender that offers them better service quickly and free of cost.
  • One of the aspects that worried the European Mortgage Federation was the difficulty in transferring the mortgage. An independent mortgage can easily overcome this problem, given that it is extremely agile.
  • An independent mortgage would not replace national mortgages, but would, rather, act as an alternative (option) for the credit institutions.

Social and economic significance of the Eurohypothec

The total mortgage loans in the EU amount to € 3.9 trillion. Currently, the percentage of mortgages granted by transnational credit institutions domiciled in different Member States is very low when compared with the number of mortgages granted in the country where a particular credit institution is domiciled. Therefore, the potential benefit for all European credit institutions would be enormous if we could find a vehicle that would enable and facilitate the granting of mortgage loans across Europe

The low utilization of transnational mortgage loans is due to excessive costs and difficulties that credit institutions are encountering every time they want to grant a loan for a project, guaranteeing it with a mortgage located in another country, especially when competing with similar lenders in the country where this property is located. Among these expenses are those for legal advice (double cost of lawyers in both territories), financial expenses (thorough knowledge of the foreign property market in question), loss of time in order to get to know and master foreign regulations for the establishment and registration of the mortgage, dependence on the foreign rules regarding efficacy, risk and the efficiency of a mortgage (strength of the action for execution), etc.

In general, transnational mortgage loans currently imply an uncertainty that leads to any project that involves guaranteeing a loan with a mortgage on a foreign property becoming too expensive, and also European credit institutions not being able to compete on a level playing field. In effect, credit institutions domiciled in the same country as the property that will serve as the guarantee for the loan have an advantage in terms of the lex rei sitae regulation (which dominates European jurisdictions), given that the financial and legal expenses, and the time and risks involved, are much lower than those faced by a foreign lender. The eurohypothec is intended to bring about real transparency in the mortgage market.

The eurohypothec will mean that:

  • Credit entities will enjoy authentic and real competition, without having to take into account any jurisdictional barriers, given that they would all be operating under a common right in rem for property guarantees.
  • The opening up of the mortgage market and the creation of a true European mortgage market would attract more entities offering mortgages in every State.
  • Increased competition between credit entities, with more entities offering mortgages will necessarily lead to lower interest rates for borrowers (whether for housing or commercial purposes) as well as improved conditions.
  • An increase in syndicated loans among different European credit entities. Greater ease in creating pan-European mortgages and the greater flexibility involved in these (if authorities choose to adopt the model of the independent mortgage) will encourage association between different credit entities around Europe in order to jointly carry out major projects that are of common interest to them.
  • Mortgages will also become more affordable for credit entities (fewer notary and registry expenses and less time spent), which in turn will surely benefit mortgage borrowers.
  • The credit entities will benefit from a strong guarantee, which will be the same in all Member States.
  • The credit entities will benefit from the new regulatory provisions of Basel II, which promotes the use of “safe mortgages”, favouring the weighting of risk.

Methodology

The group has organised its research in the following steps:

1. Three primary fields of research: a) which are the difficulties, costs and problems of the transnational loan, b) legal situation of the mortgage in each European country, c) to compile books, articles and materials about both the eurohypothec and the compared mortgage law.

2. The group will then be able to know the needs of transnational mortgage lending, the common core of mortgages throughout Europe and the scientific works already done on this topic.

3. After that, the group will propose a model for the Eurohypothec with its corresponding regulations, and the alterations needed to be made to national laws in order for it to be implemented.

4. Finally, the main final objective of the group is to write a European Directive Proposal about the Eurohypothec.

ORIGINAL MEMBERS

 Dr. Shaun Bond – University of Cambridge  (UNITED KINGDOM)

 Dr. Pedro del Pozo – University Rovira i Virgili (SPAIN)

 Mr. Martin Dixon – University of Cambridge  (UNITED KINGDOM)

 Mr. Gerwyn Griffiths – University of Glamorgan  (UNITED KINGDOM)

 Dr. Ulf Jensen – Lund University  (SWEDEN)

 Dr. Esther Muñiz – University of Valladolid  (SPAIN)

 Dr. Sergio Nasarre – University Rovira i Virgili  (SPAIN)

 Dr. Elena Sánchez – University of La Laguna (SPAIN)

 Dr. Otmar Stöcker – Verband Deutscher Hypothekenbanken (GERMANY)

 Dr. Agnieszka Tulodziecka – Polish Mortgage Credit Foundation  (POLAND)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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About the Eurohypothec

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Compared mortgage law and harmonisation of private law

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C1) SPAIN

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C2) GERMANY

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Making mortgages more flexible

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