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How will European private law emerge from the constitutive process that has been in progress in recent years? In a historical perspective, in the light of what happened in the course of the twentieth century, it is possible to note: 1) the shifting of the barycentre of private law from property to contract – a flexible, dynamic element to adapt the legal system to economic and social change; 2) the growing ‘administrativisation’ of private law in the sense that state interventionism in the economy and society has increasingly bent private autonomy to its needs; 3) the ‘constitutionalisation’ of numerous aspects of private law with the resulting modification of hierarchies of private legal situations and the creation of a new superior, ordering source. According to the author, the first aspect is a fait accompli, while the second has been further strengthened by the ‘alluvial’ Community regulatory discipline covering areas of enormous importance. As to the third aspect, he proposes an analysis of recent Community transactions and their consequences.