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European Union Research Guide
This guide provides information on the European Union and how to navigate among EU documents.
European Union Research Guide
Like the European Union itself, this guide is large and can be confusing. If you know what part of the EU or its documents you're seeking, use the table of contents outline at the right to guide you to that specific section. Otherwise, take your time and feel free to reread sections as necessary. Also, remember that you can set up appointments with librarians if you need more in-depth help navigating the EU and its copious document trail.
The European Union (EU) is an supranational organization that is currently composed of 27 European countries. The member countries have decided to adopt uniform laws on a number of issues related to their economies, finances, and security. The EU has a long history and its name has changed several times. For more on its origins, read this brief history of the European Union.
For more information, see Encyclopedia of the European Union INTL REF KJE926 .E52 2000 and Europe : A concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein (4th edition) INTL JN30 .L43 2004.
Be on the look-out for eurojargon. Like the U.S. government's love of alphabet soup, the EU is no stranger to jargon. It will help to have a glossary handy for definitions of unfamiliar terminology. If you prefer a print version, we have Eurojargon : A Dictionary of European Union Acronyms, Abbreviations and sobriquets (6th edition) INTL KJE926.5 .R35 2000.
Where to Start
As is the case with beginning research on most legal topics, research guides are an excellent place to start.
- Electronic Resource Guide [ERG] for International Law: European Union (ASIL)
This chapter of the ERG, written by Marylin Raisch, focuses on electronic resources for researching EU law, both from the EU institutions themselves and from outside vendors. It offers an overview of Europa, the official website of the EU, as well as presenting academic and NGO websites (unofficial sources) that are of use when researching the EU. It also offers links to news feeds and blogs concerning the EU.
- European Union Legal Materials: An Infrequent User's Guide (GlobaLex)
This guide was originally published in the Winter 2005 issue of Law Library Journal. It has since been updated regularly. The article runs through the various EU entities, how to obtain EU legislation, case law, and treaties, and also includes information on recent articles about the EU, as well as EU depository libraries.
- The Foreign Law Guide: European Union
The Foreign Law Guide has recently received a much-needed facelift and is currently in Beta form on its new platform at Brill; this may lead to some formatting irregularities. This online guide covers the history of the EU as well as where to find various primary documents, both online and in print. As an added bonus, you can also search for the individual countries that comprise the EU and gather equally in-depth information about their histories and primary legal documents.
- Research Guide: European Union Legal Materials (Columbia)
This is a very comprehensive guide (35 printed pages) on EU legal materials. This guide touches on many of the same issues addressed in other research guides, but it also includes sections on the Euro and searching for EU documents by CELEX number. This guide also offers numerous resources in print for topics such as EU enlargement and the Treaty of Lisbon, among many others.
- The European Union: A Very Short Introduction INTL JN30 .P55 2007
This small volume (less than 200 pages) takes a look at the evolution of the EU from its humble beginnings as the European Steel and Coal Community in 1953 to the behemoth organization it has become. The book describes how the EU grew and what that growth means for the future. The book looks at the various institutions of the EU and discusses just what the EU does for its member countries.
- Germain's Transnational Law Research INTL REF K85.G47 1991
This looseleaf volume was designed for attorneys and legal researchers to use and it focuses on US-EU relations. It serves as a practice guide for those confronted with transnational legal issues but is also useful for students, as it can save research time by pointing out which resources are most helpful. Please note that this volume is no longer being updated.
EU Institutions and Bodies
The EU offers its own explanations of its many and varied institutions, bodies, and agencies at EU Institutions and other bodies. There are 7 official EU institutions, each of which will be briefly described below with links to the respective websites.
- The Commission has both executive and administrative roles. There are 27 commissioners; one for each member country. The Commission focuses on the day-to-day tasks of implementing EU laws and managing EU finances. The Commission proposes new laws to Parliament and the Council of the EU as well as enforcing laws. It also represents the EU internationally by negotiating agreements between the EU and other countries. Commission documents include proposed legislative texts and explanatory memoranda. Proposed legislative texts can be found in the C series of the Official Journal (OJ). Both proposed legislative texts and explanatory memoranda are found in 'COM' documents (more on both of these publications later).
In a move that is not at all confusing or redundant, the EU contains both a European Council and a Council of the European Union. Let's find out the difference between the two institutions.
- The European Council oversees the EU's political policies and major initiatives but has no actual law-making capabilities. This group meets approximately 4 times during the year and is chaired by a permanent president.
- The Council of the European Union (referred to hereafter as the Council of the EU or EU Council), representing the Member States, acts on Commission proposals and is the final legislative authority. The Council of the EU may request that certain legislation be proposed and may conduct any necessary studies to help achieve treaties' goals. The EU Council also has treaty-making power. There is little public dissemination of EU Council documents.
Once the confusion over the councils has cleared (let's not even discuss the Council of Europe, which is not an EU body at all), we can focus on the remaining institutions, starting with Parliament.
- The European Parliament is meant to represent the people of the EU. Each member (MEP) is directly elected by the populations of the member states. The European Parliament has three duties. First, it assists the EU Council in debating and passing laws. Second, it scrutinizes other institutions, like the Commission, to ensure that they are functioning in a democratic manner. Finally, it works with the Council of the EU to adopt a budget. The Parliament produces reports which detail its readings and recommendations of Commission proposals as well as draft opinions. Minutes from sessions that consider reports are found in the C series of the OJ and parliamentary debates are found in the annex of the OJ.
Now that we've covered the law-making institutions, let's discuss the financial and judicial institutions.
- The European Central Bank manages the Euro and safeguards price stability for the EU. It also acts to implement EU monetary and economic policies by working with the central banks within each of the member states. Only 17 of the 27 member countries have adopted the Euro and in these countries, known as the eurozone, the Central Bank works especially closely with the member countries' banks to authorize issuance of euro banknotes.
- The European Court of Justice interprets EU law to ensure that each member country is applying the law consistently. It also settles disputes between member countries and EU institutions. Individuals may also bring cases before this court if they feel that an EU institution has violated their rights. Judges on the ECJ panel represent each of the member countries. Eight advocates-general present public and impartial opinions to the court regarding the cases before it.A general court, or court of first instance, was created in 1989 to hear disputes between civil servants and their institutions, companies, and competition law. Court opinions are officially available in the European Court Reports series and unofficially from other publishers, like CCH.
- The Court of Auditors is not a court and has no legal powers. It is an agency to audit EU finances. Any person or organization that uses EU funds is subject to auditing on the spot. If the Court of Auditors finds fraud or irregularities, it submits its findings to the European Anti-Fraud Office.
Those are the 7 official institutions of the EU. Before we move on, let's mention one of the other bodies that makes up the European Union.
- The Economic and Social Committee, representing industry, labor and consumers, is composed of members appointed by the Member States. During the legislative process, the Council of Ministers may be required to or may decide to seek the opinion of the Committee. The texts of this committee may be found in the C series of the OJ.
After you've looked at a research guide or two, you may want to take a more in-depth look at the EU. These treatises will go a bit deeper into aspects of the EU than the research guides listed above. This is not an exclusive list and to locate more materials, you can use keyword searching in the library catalog.
- Boehardt, ABC of Community Law ( 5th edition) INTL KJE949 .B67 2000
This book was written for lawyers and academics with a legal research background. It lays out some of the more notable treaties that the EU has entered into as well as the different institutions within the EU and how they interact with one another as well as the member states which comprise the EU.
- Weatherill, Cases and Materials on EU Law (8th edition) Williams KJE945 .W43 2012
This casebook focuses primarily on the judicial institutions of the EU, especially as they relate to trade and competition law.
- Ward, A Critical Introduction to European Law (2nd edition) INTL KJE947 .W37 2003
This volume is a good introduction for students to the leading academic commentary on European law. Among the various sections of this book are included chapters on EU social policy and Human Rights.
- Encyclopedia of European Union Law (updated regularly) INTL KJE926 .E52 1996
Tests to the four basic treaties are offered within these volumes in English, French and German. This set also includes all European association agreements and other ancilliary agreements, like the European Convention on Human Rights. The rules and procedures for the EU institutions and courts are also provided and each document is annotated separately.
- Schutze, European Constitutional Law INTL KJE4445 .S348 2012
This book analyzes the constitutional law of the European Union after Lisbon. It looks at the EU's history and structure, considers the powers and procedures associated with each of its branches, as well as offering a discussion of the rights and remedies of European citizens.
- Folsom, European Union Law in a Nutshell (7th edition) INTL Reserve KJE949 .F55 2011
Like other books in the nutshell series, this one offers a brief amount of information regarding many aspects of the EU (institutions, policies, cases, treaties, etc.). This is a good resource to start with; it can aid the user in finding cases and other forms of primary law to further examine.
- Hartley, The Foundations of European Community Law : An Introduction to the Constitutional and Administrative Law of the European Community (6th edition) INTL KJE947 .H37 2007
This text is used by students and practitioners alike. It focuses on the constitutional and administrative law of the EU, with a new section added in the latest edition to address the process of admitting new member states. This volume does discuss some case law as well as examining the remedies offered by both the European Court and the Court of First Instance.
- Mathijsen, A Guide to European Union Law (10th edition) INTL KJE947 .M38 2010
This is another work that can be used by both students and practitioners for reference. This volume covers the various EU institutions and bodies, as well as offering references to primary sources of law within the text. This text also analyzes some of the more prominent substantive law.
- How the European Union Works : A Citizen's guide to the EU Institutions INTL KJE947 .H69 2003
This brief guide (52 pages) is published by the European Commission. It acts as a quick reference to EU institutions. One section that may be of interest to researchers is the section on European Ombudsmen, the civil servants who act as intermediaries between citizens and the EU institutions with which they lodge complaints.
- Rudden and Wyatt's EU Treaties and Legislation (9th edition) INTL KJE916 .B37 2004
This work offers key treaties and legislation from the EU without any additional author commentary. It offers a separate section on sources within the UK.
- Smit & Herzog on the Law of the European Union
This looseleaf, which has not been updated in print since 2008, is now available, complete with current updates, in Lexis. You will need to log into Lexis Advance, and then select Lexis.com from the research bar drop-down menu to access it.
- Barnard, The Substantive Law of the EU : The Four Freedoms INTL KJE947 .B372 2007
This work focuses primarily on trade and movement of goods and people within the EU. It also discusses the EU single market and regulation of the internal market. This book includes some case law, as well as diagrams and flowcharts to clarify what is an otherwise confusing and complex topic within the EU.
- Wyatt and Dashwood's European Union Law (6th edition) INTL KJE947 .W92 2011
This seven part volume looks at the history of the EU, the EU institutions, fundamental rights, the judiciary, the internal market, competition law, and security. The book offers selections from primary documents, like treaties, with analysis of those documents.
Primary Legislation - Treaties
Now that we've covered good secondary sources for European Union information, let's turn our attention to primary sources.
Current treaties are known as primary legislation. Treaties between the EU and third party countries, or those between member states are also considered primary legislation.
- Treaty of Lisbon - 2007
- Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union - 2012 consolidated version
- Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty) - 1992 (2012 consolidated version)
- Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Commission (EURATOM Treaty) - 1957 (2012 consolidated version)
- Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union - 2012
- Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (otherwise known as the ECSC Treaty or Treaty of Paris) - 1951
- Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community (EEC Treaty or Treaty of Rome) - 1957
- Treaty Establishing a Single Council and a Single Commission of the European Communities (Merger Treaty of 1965) - 1965
- Single European Act - 1987
- Treaty of Amsterdam - 1997
- Treaty of Nice - 2001
To find additional EU treaties, there are several places you can look:
- EUR-Lex Treaties listings
- Europa Treaties listings
- International Legal Materials (also available in print through INTL RESERVE and INTL REF)
- Official Journal - consolidated versions of the treaties, with incorporated changes, through the Treaty of Lisbon
European Union treaties that have been entered into with the United States can also be found in the US Treaties and Internaitonal Agreements set. Likewise, United Nations treaties to which the EU is a party can be found on the UN Treaties website.
Secondary Legislation - All the Other Stuff
We refer to the legal system that exists between the member states within the European Union as Community Law. This differentiates it from international law generally. For a quick overview of Community Law, see Community Law on Europa. The major source of Community legislation is secondary legislation, of which there are four categories: regulations; directives; decisions; opinions and recommendations of the Court of Justice.
- Regulations are Community laws adopted by the Council of the European Union upon a proposal from the Commission. Regulations have general effect and are directly applicable in all of the Member States.
- Directives are Community laws adopted by the Council of the European Union upon a proposal from the Commission. Directives are addressed to the Member States and are binding as to the result - Member States may choose the form and methods of implementation. The process of implementation is called harmonization.
- Decisions are Community laws, issued by the Council or Commission, which are binding on those addressed, whether governments, companies or individuals.
- Opinions are written statements by the Council or Commission and have no binding force. Opinions are an important indication of Council or Commission policy. Recommendations adopted by the Commission are like directives in that they are binding only on the Member States cited and only with respect to the end result.
Most secondary legislation is found within the Official Journal (OJ). Like many aspects of the EU, the OJ is huge and perhaps unnecessarily complicated. Imagine cramming the U.S. Statutes-at-Large, the Treaty Series, the CFR, the Federal Register, and the Congressional Record into one large publication - you would have the equivalent of the OJ - not exactly light reading fare. However, once you understand how to use it, the OJ is an invaluable resource.
The Official Journal (OJ)
The Official Journal (OJ), the official gazette of the EU, is published daily.
The OJ is divided into five main parts.
- The L Series contains treaties and legislation, including directives and regulations, adopted by the Commission and Council, and other binding acts.
- The C Series is the "Information and Notices" section of the OJ containing non-binding decisions and resolutions of the institutions, texts of proposed legislation, Minutes of the Parliament, Commission and Council replies to written questions, opinions of the Economic and Social Committee, and notices of Court decisions can all be found in the C Series.
- The CE Series contains Commission proposals going back to 1999. It is only available electronically (either through EUR-Lex, Westlaw or Lexis).
- The Annex-Debates offers transcripts of plenary sessions of the European Parliament. These stopped being published after 1999.
- The S Series contains notices of invitations to bid on EU contracts.
For most intents and purposes, the L and C series are the parts of the OJ most commonly used.
Law: L & C Series (1974-). L Series INTL KJE 908.L6, C Series INTL KJE 908.I3. The OJ Special Edition offers English translations of binding acts that were adopted before UK accession INTL KJE 908.O46. The OJ is also available on EUR-Lex from 1998 forward. You can also access the OJ through the old Westlaw and Lexis platforms, from 1952 to the present. Please keep in mind that Westlaw and Lexis have not moved their foreign and international materials to their new platforms so you cannot access the OJ through WestlawNext or Lexis Advance.
Citations - What Do the Numbers Mean?
|Official Journal:||1993 OJ L 95/29||1993 = Year
L95 = Issue in L Series
29 = page # in Issue L95
|Regulations:||(EC) 2913/92||EC = Community initials
2913 = number of regulation numbered consecutively
92 = year
|Other Legal Acts:||93/13 (EC)||93 = year
13 = number of decision or directive
EC = Community initials
You must know what type of legal act you have since directives, commission decisions and recommendations can have the same citation. For example, 93/13 (EC) could be a directive or a decision.
Indexes/Directories to the Official Journal
- Index to the Official Journal of the European Communities Vol. 1 INTL KJE908.2 .O49 Alphabetical Index. Issued monthly & cumulated annually; covers EC legislation and lists filed cases and final judgments of the European Court of Justice. Particularly useful with year and subject. Vol. 2: Methodological Table INTL KJE908.2 .O5. Issued monthly & cumulated annually; arranged by document number with regulations listed first, followed by directives and decisions. INTL KJE 908.2.O49 and INTL Media (fiche).
- Directory of Community Legislation in Force and Other Acts of the Community Institutions
Produced in June and December, each publication is a cumulation including all binding secondary EC legislation in force from 1952 to the present. Volume I consists of 20 topical chapters with legislation arranged by subject. Volume II is a chronological and alphabetical index of legislation found in Vol. I. Provides quick access to complete history of legislative acts. INTL REF KJE 915.D47 and INTL Media (fiche). Also available on the EUR-Lex site in both an analytical and alphabetical index.
- European Communities Legislation : Current Status
Two volumes with supplement. Beginning with the entries in the English Special Edition of the OJ covering the years 1952-1973, and then on year by year basis, sets out chronologically the reference number of the legal act with title and OJ cite. Also covers legislation no longer in force. Current briefing service newsletter in separate folder. INTL REF KJE 920.E974
- Bulletin of the European Union This has ceased being updated and is now archived on Europa - its last issue covered July-August of 2009. It reported on the activities of the Commission and the other Community institutions. INTL REF KJE 920.E974 Available on the Web. Newer information can be found at the Newsroom site on Europa.
Other Legislative Documents
- European Parliament
- Debates of the European Parliament (part of the OJ) INTL MEDIA KJE 908.A5 Micro
- European Parliament, Working Documents (under the title Reports) INTL Media KJE 5390.A3 R466 Micro
- Commission of the European Communities Documents. Also known as COM docs. Proposals and amendments issued by Commission, including explanatory memorandum. Numbered sequentially each year and referred by number and date. Citation format: COM (90) 322 final. INTL KJE 5380.A3 C6 and INTL Media KJE 5380.A3 C6 Micro. See also European Commission Documents through EUR-Lex. A search engine that allows you to search COM Documents is available on the web.
- Economic and Social Committee, Opinions INTL Media KJE 6414.52 .E23 Micro
EUR-Lex - The OJ Online
The C and L Series of the OJ are included in EUR-Lex, the official database for documentation of European Community law.
The EUR-Lex site for access to the authenticated OJ has recently been revamped. Because of this facelift, not all links may function as they should, however, the bugs are being removed rapidly. The old EUR-Lex website is still good for preparatory documents, case law, parliamentary questions and citations to national provisions which implement EC directives.
How to Find Directives
The strategies discussed below can also be used to find regulations, decisions and other legal acts.
- Print with OJ citation:
- Look in appropriate OJ issue for the given year.
- Print with directive number only, check:
- Print without any citation, but with topic, check:
- Directory of Community Legislation in Force INTL REF KJE915 .D47.
- "Topical Index" in European Union Law Reporter INTL KJE6791 .C5 1962.
- Encyclopedia of European Union Law INTL KJE926 .E52 1996 (Part C "Secondary Legislation" 11 volumes arranged by topics. Under topics, secondary legislation arranged and reprinted chronologically).
- Lexis or Westlaw
Remember with both of these platforms, you need to use the old versions. WestlawNext and Lexis Advance to not have foreign and international materials available.
|Lexis or Westlaw||Sample Query:|
|If your cite is 1993 OJ L95/29:||1993 OJ L 95 (Lexis)
OJ 1993 L95/29 (Westlaw)
|If your directive is 93/13 (EC):||directive w/5 93/13 (Lexis & Westlaw)|
|If you have only a topic:||use keyword search|
- Bulletin of the European Union INTL KJE903 .B84 is another good source for information about directives published before the year 2006. We stopped receiving the Bulletin in print in 2005.
- RAPID webpage for activities of the EU as presented by the various institutions in their press releases. Searchable by daily news, recent press releases, and policy areas quick search.
- EU Press Room
- Summaries of EU Legislation offers about 3000 summaries of various peices of EU legislation. These summaries are divided into 32 categories that reppresent the activities of the EU.
Proposals for directives are either identified by topic, or if amending an existing directive, by that directive number.
- Online. Try keyword search by topic, or if a directive is being amended, by the directive's number.
- Legislation in Preparation
- There is also PreLex. Currently, PreLex seems to be suffering from stability issues but when it works, it follows legislation through the various stages of the process, as it bounces from one institution to another (no wonder it's unstable right now). PreLex should follow all Commission proposals, along with their transmissions to the Council of the EU or the European Parliament.
- EU Press Room
How to Find Case Law
The Official Reporter
The official reporter for the European Court of Justice is the European Court Reports [ECR] (otherwise known as Reports of Cases Before the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance) INTL KJE924.5 .C68. It is not uncommon for there to be a lag of 2 or 3 years between issues, thus we have up through 2010 in our collection. You can also access the ECR via Hein Online, though the lag there goes back to 2008. Also note that there is an off-shoot of the ECR that focuses solely on community staff cases INTL KJE924.5 .E97.
Other Places to Find Full Text Opinions
- Common Market Law Reports Selective cases published in each issue. INTL KJE925.5 .C85
- European Commercial Cases Selected decisions focused on commercial law. INTL KJE2044.6 .E8
- European Community Cases (CEC) Selected Court of Justice decisions, Court of First Instance and Commission decisions from 1989. See "Topical Index" in current volume for citation of opinion. INTL KJE 6791.C51
Search for cases by name or case number using the "Index" tab
- European Union Law Reporter Cases for European Court of Justice and national courts. INTL KJE 6791.C5
You can search for cases by name under the "Finding Lists" tab
- Lexis [Legal > Global Legal > European Union > Case Law]
- Westlaw [EU-CS-ALL database] English version of ECJ cases from 1954 and Court of First Instance from 1989. Some commercial reporters as well (Common Market Law Reports, European Commercial Cases, for example).
- Court of Justice of the European Union
Legal periodicals are a helpful way to find out about changes to the law or new case decisions. Many of the relevant periodical indexes are available on the library's journals page. These indexes include Index to Legal Periodicals and Books, Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, and Legal Journals Index. Some journals may not be indexed in any of the standard indexes.
Also check the Jean Monnet Table of Contents Service, European Integration Current Contents. Look to the left sidebar for the search capabilities. This service provides access to the tables of contents of journals relevant in European Integration research - law, human rights, economics, history and political sciences. Currently it covers 108 journals published in nine languages and 14 countries.
- EU Press Room
- EU Focus A bi-monthly newsletter published by the Delegation of the European Commission to the USA. Read online or subscribe to receive by email.
- Jurist: European Union (RSS Feed available)
- Jurist: European Constitution (RSS Feed available)
- EU Law Blog
Other Internet Sites
- Delegation of the European Commission to the United States Home page for the delegation. Focus is on economic and trade information of the European Union, particularly with the U.S. Text of press releases with archives from December 1995 under News link.
- EuroInternet Michael Nentwich of the Research Institute for European Affairs in Austria has developed a EuroInternet page. Numerous links arranged under broad headings, such as: Writings, EU Institutions, Research Institutions, Teaching, and Databases & Documents.
- European Documentation Centre - University of Mannheim Links for news, databases, online documents, press releases, EU information networks, EU institutions and programmes. Site available in German or English.
- Jean Monnet Program This site includes the Jean Monnet Working Papers with the European Research Papers Archive, teaching materials in European Law and Institutions, the Law of Regional Economic Integration in the American Hemisphere, and the Law of World Trade, the European Integration Current Contents and the EU Center at Harvard pages.
Revised June 2013 (hec)
Links revised August 2008 (RAS)
Revised July 2006 (aeb)
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