Research Guide: European Union Legal Materials
Last Updated October 2014
The purpose of this research guide is to provide an introduction to the European Union and the resources available about it. It provides an overview of many of the information resources available in the library, through the library homepage and on the Internet. The guide is designed to present general information and resources first before giving specifics into the different kinds of EU materials. By gaining an understanding of the overall organization, it is then easier to sort through the information within each institution or subject area. For the beginning researcher it is helpful to start with the broad resources, which provide an overall sense of the EU structure and organization. Researchers who are more familiar with the EU may want to begin their research in a specific area of EU law.
This guide is organized to follow the research strategy of a beginning researcher. It begins with the presentation of a general overview of the European Union history, development and structure and provides information for general resources. Following these, there are sections discussing the different types of materials created by the EU and presenting finding aids for these materials.
For additional assistance in finding European Union materials at Columbia's Diamond Law Library, please do not hesitate to contact the reference librarians at the Reference desk. Consult the law library homepage for general information and reference desk hours.
The European Union is a supranational organization whose members include most countries in Europe (referred to as Member States).
The EU began as the European Steel and Coal Community in 1953 with the intent to regulate the capacity of large metal fabricating industries. The six original Member States - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands - signed the ESCC Treaty and began the process of European integration. Since then, the EU has developed in stages with the creation of an economic community, development of a single market and the removal of many trade restrictions and border controls. In recent years, the EU has developed a common foreign affairs policy and improved cooperation among Member States on justice and home affairs. Currently, the EU is made up of two communities - the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the European Community (EC).
EU government policy is divided into three "pillars" which consist of the following:
|| Policy Content
|I||The three communities of the European Coal and Steel Community, the Economic Community and Euratom
|II||Common foreign and security policy (CFSP)
|III||Justice and home affairs - judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters, police cooperation, immigration policy
Currently there are 28 Member States of the EU:
| Member State
|| Year Joined
| Federal Republic of Germany
| The Netherlands
| United Kingdom
| Czech Republic
The principal offices of the EU are located in Brussels, Belgium, although other EU institutions have offices in Luxembourg; Frankfurt, Germany; and Strasbourg, France.
In May 2004, ten new countries joined the European Union, bringing the number of member states to twenty-five. Since this enlargement included many Eastern European and Baltic countries, it has greatly expanded the geographic scope of the EU, as well introducing many new official languages. In 2007, Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union. On July 1, 2013, Croatia joined the EU bringing the total number of countries to 28.
Further enlargement is still being planned. Entry negotiations were begun with Turkey in 2005. The application for admission by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was accepted by the EU in December 2005, although there is not yet a schedule for entry negotiations. Iceland's application for admission was accepted in July of 2007 and negotiations began in July of 2010. Montenegro received candidate status on December 17, 2010. In addition, the EU is looking at the possibility of the other Western Balkan countries joining in the future when they are sufficiently ready. These would include Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Serbia.
Resources Related to Enlargement
- Included on this page is a link to the most recent Strategy Paper relating to the progress toward accession by Iceland, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Croatia, and Turkey. There is also a discussion of the further enlargement for countries in the Western Balkans and the Stabilisation and Assocation Process, which is a precursor program to assist these countries in meeting the EU's requirements.
- Kyriaki Topidi & Alexander H.E. Morawa (eds.), Constitutional evolution in Central and Eastern Europe : expansion and integration in the EU. (2010)
- KJC4436 .C66 2010
- Various articles on EU Enlargement policies and how they relate to issues of Constitutionalism
- R. Langeuiesche, and A. Toth (eds.), The Unity of Europe: Political, Economic and Social Aspects of EU Enlargement. (2001)
- JX1982 Un4 2001 2nd Floor
- This book provides an introduction to the EU enlargement process. It was produced following the 2000 joint conference of the European Trade Union Confederation and the European Trade Union Institute. There are transcripts of the speeches made at the conference relating to the political, economic and social factors involved in enlarging the EU.
- Enlargement Strategy Paper: Report on progress towards accession by each of the candidate countries. (2001)
- JX 1981 B872 2000/3 2nd Floor
- The report from the European Commission gives a broad overview of the reasons for enlargement and the strategies involved in accession. It also provides a look at where each candidate country was in the accession process as of 2000. Although the information regarding the countries is not current, this is still an interesting resource because it shows what the countries were doing to prepare themselves for membership in the EU, as well as what the EU was seeking from prospective members.
- Adapting the Institutions to Make a Success of Enlargement: Commission Opinion. (2000)
- JX 1981 B872 2000/2 2nd Floor
- This commission opinion presents a strategy for adapting the EU institutions as enlargement progresses. It analyzes how the institutions currently operate and suggests possible options for their development and evolution as a result of the 2004 enlargement.
- C. Ross, Perspectives on the Enlargement of the European Union. (2002)
- JX 1981 P432 2002 2nd Floor
- This volume is a compilation of articles relating to the enlargement of the EU. Its purpose is to provide a historical account of the enlargement process and to analyze the current status of and future developments in the accession countries. There are chapters relating to region-wide issues and others which provide more in-depth looks at individual countries.
- N. Nugent (ed.), European Union Enlargement. (2004)
- JX1982 Eu7419 2004 2nd Floor
- This book addresses the question of how the 2004 enlargement would impact the European Union as a whole. It reviews the historical development of the different enlargements of the EU and places the 2004 enlargement within the larger context. Chapters in the book look at the key social, political, economic and external issues relating to enlargement and the EU.
- P. Elsuwege, From Soviet republics to EU member states : a legal and political assessment of the Baltic states' accession to the EU. (2008)
- HC240.25.B29 E47 2008 Cellar
On January 1, 1999, the European Union implemented the Euro as a single economic unit and on January 1, 2002, paper and coin Euros came into circulation.Fitteen of the 27 current EU members had adopted the Euro as their official currency and are part of the "Euro Area". This includes Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta, three of the countries which joined the EU in 2004. The rest of the new EU countries are "Member States with derogation", which means they are working toward the adoption of the Euro. There are variable timetables for the implementation of the Euro within these countries.The United Kingdom and Denmark opted out of the Euro. Originally, Sweden had also opted out of the Euro, but it is now considered a "Member State with derogation", although a timeframe has not been established for adoption. The most recent country to adopt the Euro is Estonia, which adopted it in 2011.
Europa's EURO information page
- This website contains information relating to the participating members in the EURO, legislation used in its implementation, as well as an archive of papers discussing the changeover to the EURO. This website also contains reports on the progress of the expansion of the Euro Area in the section on documents.
Constitution for the European Union and the Treaty of Lisbon
Between February 2002 and July 2003, the Convention on the Future of Europe took place with the intent of developing a draft constitution for the EU. The Draft Constitution was completed and presented to the President of the EU by the President of the Convention on July 18, 2003. The final version of the proposed constitution, called the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, was signed by the heads of state on October 29, 2004. It was submitted to the member states for ratification. Although it has been ratified by fifteen countries, the Treaty was defeated in France and the Netherlands in June 2005. Following those defeats, the European Council decided to review the constitution and the ratification process in early 2006. In their June 2006 meeting, the European Council extended the period of review and reflection for another two years.
After this period of review, the Treaty of Lisbon was signed on December 13, 2007 and entered into force on December 1, 2009. The Treaty of Lisbon replaces the Constitution.
Resources Related to the Treaty of Lisbon and the Constitution
- Article available on the Human and Constitutional Rights Resource Page. It provides a discussion of the reasons for establishing a constitution for the EU.
- This book discusses the status, structure and reasons for the Intergovernmental Conferences (IGC) held by the European Union. There is specific focus on the constitutional IGCs that are being used for the purpose of developing a constitution of the EU. It presents a historical background of IGCs dating from the 1950s and also explores the reasons for the recently increased occurrence of the IGCs.
- C Church and D. Phinnemore, Understanding the European Constitution: An introduction to the EU Constitutional Treaty. (2006)
KJE 4445 .C49 2006 4th Floor
- This book provides analysis of the main features of the European Constitution. The focus is on Part I of the Constitution, but it also briefly introduces materials realated to the other parts of the document. There is discussion of the history and development of the constitution and a look at the ratification process.
- A. Albi and J. Ziller (eds.), The European Constitutions and National Constitutions: Ratification and Beyond. (2007)
KJE 4445 .E9695 2007 4th Floor
- This book looks at the ratification process of the European Constitution in each member state. The materials are presented first for the countries that have approved the constitution, then the two where ratification failed and lastly the countires in which the ratification process is on hold pending decisions by the EU on the future of the constitution. The analysis addresses the question of how the European Constitution has impacted the national constitution within the countries.
Principal Institutions of the EU - Brief Descriptions
Following are brief descriptions of the principal institutions of the EU, focusing on each institution's legal activities and structure. Subsequent sections contain more detailed instructions on legal research related to each institution.
The European Commission is the primary generator of new legislation in the EU. The Commission proposes new legislation and launches new policy initiatives. The Commission also serves as the executive of the EU and enters into international agreements on behalf of the EU. In addition, the Commission is the guardian of EU policy and can initiate legal proceedings to ensure compliance with EU policy and legislation.
The commission currently consists of 27 Commissioners, one from each Member State. One of these 27 members acts as the President. Each commissioner has a separate portfolio - an area of policy concern. The staff of the Commission is organized into 36 Directorates-General ("DG") or departments which have distinct areas of responsibility. Previously, DG's were referred to by Roman numeral but since September 1999 (six months after the Commission resigned en masse under pressure because of serious allegations of corruption), DG's have been reorganized as follows and are no longer referred to by number:
| Secretariat General
| European Anti-Fraud Office
| Press and Communication
| Publications Office
| Economic and Financial Affairs
| Education and Culture
| Employment and Social Affairs
| Energy and Transport
| Health and Consumer Protection
| Information Society
| Internal Market
| Joint Research Centre
| Regional Policy
| Taxation and Customs Union
| EuropeAid - Co-operation Office
| External Relations
| Humanitarian Aid Office - ECHO
| Financial Control
| Group of Policy Advisers
| Internal Audit Service
| Joint Interpreting and Conference Service
| Legal Service
| Personnel and Administration
Each directorate-general maintains an individual web site that contains information on the policy area for which it is responsible. Frequently, working papers and preliminary reports prepared by the DG are available on its web site. The European Commission's Directorates-General and Services webpage provides links to individual Commission departments.
Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union, also known as the Council of Ministers, is a separate and distinct body from the European Council described below. Composed of selected ministers from each Member State, the Council exercises legislative power along with the European Parliament. The Council operates through committees such as the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER).
Originally, the European Parliament had little political power or authority. But, after the Treaty of Lisbon came into force in December of 2009, the Parliament has robust decision making authority. The European Parliament shares legislative power equally with the Council of the European Union. This means it is empowered to adopt European laws (directives, regulations etc,). It can accept, amend or reject the content of European legislation. The Parliament has no authority to propose legislation directly, but may request the European Commission to propose legislation.
This political assembly of 766 members is directly elected by the citizens of the EU Member States. Representation is roughly proportional to the population of the EU Member States. Members of the European Parliament are sometimes referred to as MEP's.
Consisting of the heads of state (presidents and prime ministers) of EU members, the European Council meets twice a year, usually in January and June. The President of the Council is appointed for a 2 1/2 year period by a double majority of the other Council members. The President hosts the Council meeting. The Council does not have legislative power, but rather it develops, defines and prioritizes the main political issues for the EU. This body is distinct and separate from the Council of the European Union described above.
European Court of Justice
Consisting of 28 judges and 8 advocates general, the Court of Justice interprets and adjudicates disputes over EU law, a separate body of law distinct from and supreme over the law of the Member States. The judges are elected by common accord among the Member States.
Consisting of one judge from each Member Country, the General Court (previously called the "Court of First Instance"), is an intermediate appellate court which also decides disputes regarding EU law. This court was created in 1989 to alleviate delays in deciding cases because of an increased caseload. The court's jurisdiction is focused on competition cases and staff cases. It does not hear actions brought by Member States.
Committee of the Regions
Created by the Treaty of Maastricht (1992), the Committee of Regions is a consultative body composed of over 300 members who serve four year terms. Membership is roughly proportional to the populations of the Member States. The Council of the European Union appoints members proposed by Member States who are generally local, municipal or regional officials. The COR must be consulted during the legislative process regarding laws affecting trans-European infrastructure, education, culture, environment, or employment or having a particular local or regional effect. The COR issues opinions at the request of other EU institutions or can issue own-initiative opinions.
Economic and Social Committee
Created by the Treaty of Rome (1957), the Economic and Social Committee is a consultative body, consisting of 344 members, issues opinions on legislation. The members are appointed by the Council and the membership is roughly proportional to the populations of the Member States. The membership is divided into three equal groups that represent labor unions, professional bodies (accountants, physicians, attorneys, etc.) and other groups.
European Court of Auditors
The European Court of Auditors audits the accounts and implements the budget of the EU and consists of representatives from each Member States. The Court issues an annual report, special reports and opinions.
European Central Bank
Member States that meet certain economic criteria and standards join the European Central Bank. The bank creates and implements monetary policy and is responsible for the issuance of the EU's common currency - the Euro.
Introductory Treatises and Texts
- A book that gives an overview of EU law with more detailed explanations of the sources of EU law and its development.
- D. Chalmers (ed.), European Union law : text and materials. (2006 & Supp.)
KJE947 .E879 2006 3rd Floor Reserve.
- A text that gives a basic overview of the timeline through which the EU was created. It explains how the EU and its institutions were developed.
- K. Davies, Understanding European Union Law (4th ed. 2011)
KJE949 .D38 2011 4th Floor
- Written for people new to the topic, this book serves as an introduction to the law of the European Union. It provides an overview of how and why the EU developed. Discussion of the main institutions and types of law are included, as is a look at the interaction between EU law and the laws of the member states.
- P. Birkinshaw & M. Varney (eds). European Union legal order after Lisbon. (2010)
KJE947 .E975 2010 4th Floor
- Overview of post-Lisbon treaty EU and how the various law-making bodies work.
- T.C. Hartley, The Foundations of European Community Law (7th ed. 2010)
KJE947 .H37 2010 2nd Floor
- This book is a good introduction to the law of the European Union. Chapter 1 describes the legal basis for and function of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. Chapter 2 describes the structure and function of the EU's judicial system - the European Court of Justice and the General Court (and its predecessor, the Court of First Instance).
- P.S.R.F. Mathijsen, A Guide to European Union Law: as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon (10th. ed. 2010)
KJE947 .M38 2010 4th Floor
- This book provides a comprehensive introduction to European Union institutions and EU. It presents an overview of the development of the EU and the responsibilities of the main institutions. There is also discussion relating to specific EU policies and a look at the EU's place in the world.
- Paul Craig and Gráinne de Búrca, (eds.), The evolution of EU law (2011)
KJE947 .E99 2011 3rd Floor Reserve.
- History of the EU with much detail on the founding instruments as well as legislation and policy on many areas of law. More for comprehensive research.
Dictionaries and Directories
A. Ramsay, Eurojargon: A Dictionary of the European Union, 6th ed. (2000)
JX1982 Eu743 2000 3rd Floor Reserve
- Acronyms used by EU agencies and officials.
Glossary: Institutions, Policies and Enlargement of the European Union
- A selective list of terms and concepts related to the EU.
- The official directory of the European Union, this database provides contact information for senior personnel of the European Union. Searchable by name, entity or hierarchical structure. There is a print version of this resource called the Official Directory of the European Union [JN27 .O34] available in the library on the 4th floor.
Databases are excellent resources for accessing EU materials. There are a variety of database options, each of which has its advantages. As an example, while Europa, the official EU database, has access to current materials, the commercial databases (Lawtel, Lexis and Westlaw) provide access to both current and older materials. The commercial databases also have more sophisticated search mechanisms. The scope of coverage and ease of use of the commercial databases can also be a factor in choosing the one to use. It is advisable to start with the interface with which one is most comfortable and then try the others.
This section is designed to serve as a general introduction to the databases. Specific access information for individual types of materials will be discussed in subsequent section.
Note: Database content in each of these products can change and the individual databases may or may not be comprehensive. As a general rule, the official sources available through Europa provide the most current information, more current than any of the commercial databases. It is important to check the descriptions of the content of the individual databases. In Lawtel, the descriptions are located within the Help and Content functions; in Westlaw and Lexis, there are informational icons listed after the database name.
- The official web page of the European Union provides excellent access to official EU documents. Compared to the commercial databases, Europa offers the most current coverage, often including same day information. It contains links to the homepages of EU institutions and explains the functions and activities of these institutions. This portal has become a principal tool to improve the transparency of EU governance. Europa is an excellent resource for information when one is interested in a specific document or specific documents. The search function on Europa is basic and advanced searching can be problematic. While Europa is an excellent resource for recent EU materials, it does not contain a comprehensive archive of older materials. For older materials, it is necessary to use one of the commercial databases, such as Westlaw, Lexis or Lawtel. Europa provides a brief guide to the information sources on the website.
- Lawtel EU is a subscription database which provides access to documents from all the official EU sources. This includes full text versions of the EU treaties, as well as legislation, press releases and background information related to their enactment. The database includes EU treaties since 1951, adopted and proposed legislation since 1989 and the majority of the adopted legislation since the founding of the EU. This database provides comprehensive access to cases from both the European Court of Justice and the General Court (and its predecessor, the Court of First Instance) since 1989, including information from the initial application to the final judgment. Full text of the opinions is available online for cases since 1997. The other individual databases in this resource date back to 1987. Subject and keyword searching is available either in individual or multiple databases. Lawtel provides detailed descriptions of the content of each database within the "Help" function. Lawtel provides updated information within 24 hours of publication in an official source.
- The Westlaw EU databases contain materials relating to case law, legislation, originating treaties and regulations. The database includes EU treaties since 1951, legislation since 1952, preparatory acts since 1975, and parliamentary questions since 1992. Case law dates back to 1954 for the European Court of Justice and 1989 for the General Court (and its predecessor, The Court of First Instance). There is access to periodical articles, and updates of current awareness materials. Currency within the databases varies, but Westlaw generally updates within 24 hours of publication. All EU materials have migrated to WestlawNext.
The European Union has developed over the past four decades from the European Steel and Coal Community to the current supranational organization through the adoption and ratification of treaties.
Europa contains copies of the constitutive treaties. The text of the treaties are usually published in the Official Journal of the European Union, the principal legal publication of the EU. Other treaty series and commercial publications are also sources for the text of treaties.
The founding treaties are frequently referred to as "primary legislation." In contrast, "secondary legislation" refers to directives, regulations and other forms of law described in the LEGISLATION section below.
Following is a list of the founding treaties and their citations that provide the legal basis for the EU [See Appendix B Treaty Sources ]:
- Treaty Establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, April 18, 1951, 261 U.N.T.S. 140 (ECSC Treaty or Treaty of Paris). This treaty expires by its own terms on 23 July 2002.
- Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community, March 25, 1957, 298 U.N.T.S.3, 4 Eur. Y.B. 412 (EEC Treaty or Treaty of Rome).
- Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, March25, 1957, 298 U.N.T.S. 259, 5 Eur. Y.B. 454 (Euratom Treaty).
- Treaty Establishing a Single Council and a Single Commission of the European Communities, April 8, 1965, 1967 J.O. 152/1 (Merger Treaty in French).
- Single European Act, Feb. 17, 1986, 1987 O.J. (L 169); 25 I.L.M. 506.
- Treaty on European Union, Feb. 7, 1992, 1992 O.J. (C 191), 31 I.L.M. 253 (the Union Treaty or the Maastricht Treaty).
- Treaty of Amsterdam Amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties Establishing the European Communities and Certain Related Acts, Oct. 2, 1997, 1997 O.J. (C 340); 37 I.L.M. 56 (Treaty of Amsterdam).
- Treaty of Nice Amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties Establishing the European Communities and Certain Related Acts, Feb. 26, 2001, 2001 O.J. (C 80) (Treaty of Nice).
- Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, signed at Lisbon, 13 December 2007, O.J. (C 306).
A consolidated version of the treaties incorporating the changes through the Treaty of Lisbon is available in the Official Journal:
The Treaty of Amsterdam renumbered the articles of the founding treaties. Citations to specific articles of the founding treaties prior to the ratification of the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997 will be to the old numbering scheme of the treaty articles. A table of equivalences showing the correspondence between the old and new numbering scheme was published in the Official Journal on October 11, 1997 at O.J. 1997 C340/85. The table of equivalences is also available online as an appendix to The ABC of Community Law
- Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community, signed at Lisbon, 13 December 2007 O.J. (C 306). Articles, sections, chapters, titles and parts of the Treaty on European Union and of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union are renumbered (Treaty of Lisbon article 5 and Annex).
The EU has grown since its founding by admitting additional nations. New members of the EU must sign and ratify an accession treaty in order to join the EU. The accession treaties and their citations are listed below:
- Accession to the European Communities of the Kingdom of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Jan. 22, 1972, 1972 O.J. (L 73) (First Accession Treaty).
- Accession to the European Communities of the Hellenic Republic, May 28, 1979, 1973 O.J. (L 291) (Second Accession Treaty).
- Accession to the European Economic Communities of the Kingdom of Spain and the Portuguese Republic, June 12, 1985, 1985 O.J. (L 302) (Third Accession Treaty).
- Accession to the European Union of the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden, June 24, 1994, 1994 O.J. (C 241) (Fourth Accession Treaty).
- Accession to the European Union of the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden, June 24, 1994, 1994 O.J. (C 241) (Fourth Accession Treaty).
- Accession to the European Union of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic t, April 16, 2003, 2003 O.J. (L 236) (Fifth Accession Treaty).
- Accession to the European Union of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania, April 25, 2005, 2005 O.J. (L 157) (Sixth Accession Treaty).
- Treaty of Accession of Croatia, April 24, 2012, 2012 O.J. (L 112)
The full text of the Accession Treaties is available on Europa. Please note that Eurlex is undergoing transitions. This page indicates that some treaties have not fully migrated to Eurlex's new platform.
Electronic Databases (Treaties)
- EurLex, the portal for European Union law, contains the text of the EU treaties
- Contains founding treaties since 1951.
- Recent documents are available in PDF showing an image from the Official Journal.
EU materials have not yet been incorporated into Lexis Advance
- Includes full text versions of the Nice Treaty, the EU Treaty and EC Treaty, both in the Maastricht version (from 1 November 1993) and the Amsterdam version (from 1 May 1999). The text of the Accession Treaty related to the 2004 Enlargement is also available. It is possible to search for legislation, press releases and background information related to the treaties and their enactment. Lawtel provides hyperlinks between the Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties, since the Amsterdam Treaty modified existing treaty article numbers. You will find the EU materials under the 'Specialist Areas' tab along the top.
Copies of the treaties are available in several commercial publications:
European Union Law Reporter (Sweet & Maxwell)
JX1984.E6 C74 2nd Floor
- The text of the treaties is in the fourth volume of this four volume set.
Encyclopedia of European Union Law (K. Simmonds ed., Sweet & Maxwell)
KJE 4442.3 .E52 4th Floor
- Vol. 1 – Founding and Accession Treaties
- Vol.2 and3 – Flanking and Association Treaties
- Vol.3 and4 - EU Institutions
- Vol.5 – Amending Treaties
- Vol. 6 and 7 – Three pillars - Description
European Union Law Guide (Oceana)
KJE947 .E88 4th Floor
- Volume 1 – Treaties
- Volume 1-7 – Principal legislation organized by topic
Smit & Herzog on The Law of the European Union (LexisNexis Matthew Bender)
KJE947 .S632 4th Floor
- This four-volume loose-leaf is a revised and updated edition of Smit and Herzog’s Law of the European Community: A Commentary on the EC Treaty. It analyzes the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community article-by-article, with commentary and references to relevant legislation and case law.
Five EU institutions are involved in the legislative process: the Commission , the Council of the European Union , the Parliament , the Committee of the Regions , and the Economic and Social Committee . The Commission, the Council and the Parliament are primarily involved in enacting legislation. The Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions serve in a consultative role.
The main decision making process in the EU is called Ordinary Legislative Procedure. Ordinary Legislative Procedure takes the place of "Co-decision" which was the main vehicle by which EU decisions were made prior to December 2009 and the Treaty of Lisbon.
- Ordinary Legislative Procedure
- Consent (formerly known as "Assent")
- Enhanced Cooperation
Europa provides detailed information on how decisions are made in the EU.
Additional information can be found at the European Parliament website.
There are four types of EU legislation:
- Regulations, which are directly applicable to Member States and require no further action to have legal effect.
- Directives, which are addressed to and are binding on Member States, but the Member State may choose the method by which to implement the directive. Generally, a member state must enact national legislation to comply with a directive.
- Decisions, which are binding on those parties to whom they are addressed.
- Recommendations and Opinions, which have no binding force.
Official Journal of the European Union
The Official Journal (O.J.) of the European Union publishes the text of legislation and other official acts of the European Union. It contains treaties, all four types of legislation mentioned above, working papers, judgments of the European Court of Justice, proposals for legislation, and other official communications between EU institutions. Prior to 2003, this publication was called the Official Journal of the European Communities. Before 1973 when the United Kingdom and Ireland joined the EU, the O.J. was not published in English. Currently, the O.J. is published daily in all the official languages of the EU. To the U.S. researcher, the O.J. is a combination of the Statutes at Large, the U.S. Treaty series, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register and the Congressional Record.
There are five components to the Official Journal:
- Legislation - L Series contains regulations and directives adopted by the Commission or the Council alone or jointly with the European Parliament. Prior to 1968, the Official Journal was not divided into the L and C series.
- Communications - C Series contains non-binding decisions of the EU institutions such as communications of the Commission on various topics, Court judgments, opinions of the Committee of the Regions or the Economic and Social Council.
- Communications - CE Series contains Commission proposals since July 1999. It is only available in an electronic version on EurLex, Westlaw, or Lexis. A table of contents of the electronic CE series is published in the C Series.
- Annex-Debates contains verbatim reports of the plenary sessions of the European Parliament. The Annex-Debates ceased publication after the May 1999 parliamentary session.
- Supplement - S Series contains notices of invitations to bid on EU funded contracts.
Many EU legislative documents are available in an electronic version, but the EU considers only the print version to be official.
Law Library Holdings
The Arthur W. Diamond Law Library owns all the components of the Official Journal:
Official Journal of the European Union: Legislation (L Series)
- KJE908 .L31 2nd and 4th Floor
- Holdings 2003 - present
- Recent issues are in 3rd Floor Reserve
- JX1984 .E1 J8101 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1973-2003
- JX 1984 .E1 J8 2nd Floor
- Holdings prior to 1973 - only in French
Official Journal of the European Union: Information and Notices (C Series)
- KJE908 .I541 2nd and 4th Floor
- Holdings 2003 - present
- Recent issues are in 3rd Floor Reserve
- JX1984 .E1 J81 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1973 - 2003
Official Journal of the European Union: Index
- KJE908.2 .I53 4th Floor
- Holdings 2003 - present
- JX1984 .E1 J815 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1980-2003
- Subject and Name Indexes
Official Journal of the European Communities: Annexes - Debates of the European Parliament
- JX1984 .E12 D31 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1973-1993
- Ceased publication in print in 1999
- JX1984 .E12 D31 2nd Floor microfiche
- Holdings 1994-1996
Official Journal Special Edition
- JX1984.E1 J82 2nd Floor
- In 1973, most EU legislation then in effect was translated into English.
Official Journal CE Series
- Beginning in July 1999, major European Commission proposals are available in the CE Series. The full text of the CE Series is available on EurLex, Westlaw, and Lexis. A table of contents of each CE issue is published in the print version of the C series.
The Official Journal is also available in electronic form in the following databases:
- Journals from 1952 forward are available on the Web. All are in .pdf format
- L Series has coverage from 1952-present
- C Series - has coverage from 1992 to present
- Documents published after 1997 are available in PDF
How to Find a Document When You Have a Citation to the OJ
A regulation is generally cited by its number, then its year. In contrast, a directive is cited by its year first, then its number.
Example: Council Regulation No. 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, 2001 O.J. (L 12) 1.
This Regulation is in the L Series of the OJ in the 2001 volume containing issue 12 for that year at page 1.
How to Find a Regulation or Directive When You Have Only the Year and Number of the Document
Example: First Council Directive 77/780 on the coordination of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the taking up and pursuit of the business of credit institutions, 1977 O.J. (L 322) 30.
Assuming you do not have a citation to the Official Journal, but only the year and number, search:
- In LexisNexis, the document segment Title with "77/780"
- In Westlaw, the field Title with "77/780"
- In EurLex, search the Legislation database by Document Number
- In Lawtel, search the Adopted Legislation or Proposed Legislation databases by Document Number
The Chronological Index of Volume II of the Directory ofCommunity Legislation in Force ("CLIF" located in 3 rd Floor Reference JX1981 .R261) can also help find an OJ citation to an EU official document. In the Chronological Index, documents are organized by document sector, by year and then by CELEX number. By cross-referencing to Volume I of CLIF, you can locate the specific OJ citation.
How to Find EU Documents by CELEX Number
CELEX is the official database of documents used by EU officials and available to others by subscription. Each document in the CELEX database is assigned a unique CELEX number. See the section entitled "Information for Readers" at the beginning of Volume II of CLIF for more information on interpreting CELEX numbers. Because the EU databases on Westlaw and LexisNexis are derived from CELEX, the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library does not subscribe to CELEX.
To find documents by CELEX number, search
- In Westlaw in the Field Restriction called "Celex-number" or use the field name CLX
Note: A Celex number is normally a series of 10 alphanumeric symbols. In Westlaw, the Celex number does not contain the first two digits of the year of publication ("19" or "20") and therefore consists of 8 symbols.
Example: Celex number is 41987D0597.
- In Westlaw, use 487D0597.
- In Lawtel, in any of the databases, search by entering the full 10 symbol CELEX number in the text box.
How to Find EU Legislation by Subject
Frequently, you will want to find EU legislation on a particular legal topic. Unlike the federal statutes in the United States, there is no official codification of EU legislation. However, there are several sources that provide subject access to EU law. Searching electronic databases such as Westlaw may be "easier," but a search of print sources frequently is more effective and efficient.
Similar to legal research in the U.S., legal research in European Union law can be done effectively with Westlaw and Lexis. Lawtel is also available for EU legislative research.
- In Lawtel, one has the the ability to focus the search to proposed or adopted legislation. It is also possible to search press releases, background information and notices from the EU legislative bodies.
- In Westlaw, select International Law from the WestlawNext landing page. Then choose European Union.
- In EurLex, search multiple databases such as the OJ, Legislation in Preparation, Legislation, Treaties, and Case Law. Europa generally does not include pre-1997 documents and its search engine is not as sophisticated as the searching software in Westlaw and Lexis.
- This web page provides summaries of EU activities, organized by subject area. The page is organized to allow multiple serch strategies. It is possible to choose a broad subject and review the summary Keyword searching is also available and there is an A-Z Index of the contents.
Directory of EU Legislation in Force
- Available on Eurlex, this database includes legislation classified according to the Directory of Community legislation. Legislation is organized into 20 chapters based on subject.The electronic version contains hypertext links to EU documents. Some are available in PDF. Eurlex has also consolidated the legislation so you can view the legislation and all of its various modifications.
European Union Law Reporter (also known as European Community Cases)
KJE6791.A7 E961 4th Floor
- This loose-leaf service published by CCH was mentioned earlier under Introductory Texts and Treaties. Vol. 4 contains a useful topical index to an analysis of EU law which contains citations to the Official Journal.
How to Find Other Documents Related to the Legislative Process
Commission Documents, also known as COM documents, include legislative proposals, communications and reports such as "green papers" or "white papers" issued by the staff of the Commission. COM documents are numbered sequentially each year and are referenced by number and date.
Example: COM (2002) 0018, Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament towards an Integrated European Railway Area.
COM documents are available in microfiche:
JX1984.E1 C7371 2nd Floor Microfiche
- The Diamond Law Library owns documents from 1992 forward.
COM documents are available in the following electronic databases:
- EurLex - Prepartory Acts
- WestlawNext: International materials > European Union > Legislation
Most of these documents (without the useful explanatory memorandum) were published in the OJ C series until June 1999. After June 1999 selected COM documents are available in the electronic Official Journal CE series on EurLex.
Prior to 1999, Council documents typically were kept confidential. Due to provisions in the Treaty of Amsterdam and a general policy of transparency in EU decision-making, more Council documents are being made public. Since the Treaty of Lisbon went into force in December, 2009, special transparent measures have been followed which can be found in Article 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). More information on Legislative Transparency can be found on the Council's website.
A Register of Council Documents is available online since January 1999. The register is searchable and some documents are available full-text.
Parliamentary Documents and Reports
As part of the legislative process, the European Parliament generates documents such as committee reports and floor debates that are of interest to legal researchers.
OEIL the Legislative Observatory
- The European Parliament has created a database that tracks parliamentary action on legislative proposals. The database can be searched by multiple criteria such as keywords, stage of legislative procedure, etc. An index of legislative action by subject is also available.
Debates of the European Parliament
- Debates of the European Parliment are located in a searchable database at the European Parliament's web site.
Official Journal of the European Communities: Annexes - Debates of the European Parliament
- JX1984 .E12 D31 2nd Floor
- Ceased publication in print in 1999
- JX1984 .E12 D31 2nd Floor microfiche
- Post-1999 debates are available in microfiche
Reports of the European Parliament
- EuroParl provides a searchable database of reports. A parliamentary report is assigned a document number that typically begins with PE DOC A ______.
- Example: PE DOC A4-0485/98, Report on the Communication from the Commission on the Information Strategy for the Euro.
Session Documents / Working Documents - contain committee reports, communications from Parliament
- Session Documents are divided into three series:
- A Series contains committee reports which are referred to by document number such as PE DOC A ____.
- B Series contains motions tabled by MEP's and other material related to plenary sessions of the Parliament.
- C Series contains Commission proposals for legislation (COM documents referred to above) that are renumbered with European Parliament document numbers.
Parliament Documents can be found online.
- JX1984.E12 Se74 2nd Floor Microfiche
- Holdings from 1995 - 1996
- JX1984.E12 Se74 2nd Floor
- Holdings from 1987 - 1994
Working Documents [Session Documents]
- JX1984.E12 W891 2nd Floor
- Holdings from 1973 - 1987
Documents de Séance [Session Documents]
- JX1984.E12 D5 2nd Floor
- Holdings from 1958 - 1973 (in French)
Parliamentary documents after 1996 are available on Europarl.
- Members of the European Parliament regularly question European Commissioners on EU policy. The European Parliment provides a searchable database of these parlimentary questions and responses.
- Parliamentary Questions are also available in the OJ C Series through 1999.
Economic and Social Committee Documents
Current documents can be found on the Committee's web site.
The library still holds older documents in print
JX1984 .E13 An8 2nd Floor,
Holdings 1973 - 1983
JX1984 .E13 B82 2nd Floor,
Holdings 1973 - 2000 when it ceased publication
Committee of the Regions Documents
The official web site contains searchable databases of opinions and resolutions of the Committee. Press releases and the Committee's recent Activity Reports are also available.
Status of Legislation
To verify the status of proposed legislation or to learn more about the steps in the enactment of a particular legislative proposal, the following two databases are useful.
- PreLex is a database maintained by the European Commission that collects the documents issued at each step of the legislative process. It is searchable by keyword, document number, citation, etc. and includes hypertext links to relevant documents.
- The Legislative Observatory. Maintained by the European Parliament, OEIL provides a synopsis of legislative procedures taken in enacting legislation. Searchable by document number, title of document and other means.
- The Directory of EU Legislation in Force is useful in determining status of legislation.
- RAPID is a searchable database of press releases by various EU institutions. Frequently, press releases are the quickest and easiest way to learn of new developments in EU law.
National Implementing Legislation
As mentioned above, there are four principal types of EU legislation. While regulations are directly applicable to member states, directives require legislative action on the part of each member country. National implementing legislation must be enacted to enforce the objective of a directive.
In order to determine if national legislation has been enacted in response to EU legislation, the researcher has several aids.
- In Eurlex, click on "bibliographic notice" for a directive. In this section, click on "Display National Implementing Measures" to display a list of national laws implementing the directive.
Secretariat-General: Application of Community Law
- The application of community law is gathered in reports on this website. It includes sections on a Calendar for transposition of Directives; Progress in notification of national measures implementing directives; Infringements; and State Aids.
- Includes information on implementing information, organized by topic.
- In Westlaw, there is a section at the end of each directive entitled "Implementation." In that section are listed the national laws that were enacted in response to that particular piece of legislation.
Commercial Laws of Europe (Sweet & Maxwell)
Comp 600.2 C73 Cellar
- Originally, this was a monthly publication of the important national legislation passed in Western Europe, including national legislation implementing EU directives and English translations of selected statutes. Beginning in 1990, the Commercial Laws of Europe became a yearly compilation. As part of the table of contents, volumes of this text include "E.C. Legislation Implemented", which chronologically lists the directive numbers and information relating to the tilte of the national legislation and the member country.
Created by the Treaty of Rome, the European Court of Justice interprets and applies European Union law as found in the EU treaties and legislation. The founding treaties state that the Court "shall ensure that in the interpretation and application of this Treaty the law is observed." The court sits in Luxembourg and the working language of the court is French. A case may be brought in any of the official languages of the EU and one language will be designated the language of the case (generally the language of the national court referring the case). English did not become an official EU language until the United Kingdom joined the EU in 1973. The European Court of Justice is separate and distinct from the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe.
The ECJ has broad jurisdiction in EU matters and its decisions have the force of law in the Member States of the EU. Decisions of the ECJ can override national legislation and decisions of national courts that are deemed contrary to the provisions of EU treaties and legislation.
The General Court , created in 1989 to relieve the case load of the ECJ, (and which was known as the Court of First Instance prior to 2010), principally hears cases dealing with competition law, dumping, subsidies and staff grievances. Decisions of the General Court can be appealed to the European Court of Justice.
- Curia is the official website for the European Court of Justice and the General Court (known as the Court of First Instance prior to 2010). It provides a description of the institutions and their history and composition. It also provides access to the decisions of both courts. On Curia's main page there is a guide for users which explains the search methods available for case law. The Case Law page provides access to the search forms and chronological lists of the cases decided by both the European Court of Justice and the General Court. Decisions since June 1997 are available on the Web and full text searching is possible for both courts. Decisions are available by case number since the European Court of Justice's inception in 1953. After 1989, case numbers for the European Court of Justice begin with "C-". Decisions of the General Court and its predecessor, The Court of First Instance are available by case number since the Court's inception in 1989. Case numbers for the General Court/Court of First Instance begin with "T-".
Reports of Cases before the Court
(commonly known as the European Court Reports or ECR)
Holdings: 1954 to present
Latest opinions are located in 3rd Floor Reserve
- Official reporter of cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union. The ECR is divided into three sections: I refers to decisions from the European Court of Justice; II refers to decisions from the General Court and its predecessor, the Court of First Instance; III refers to staff cases. Publication of decisions in this reporter is frequently delayed by 18 months or longer due to the need to translate them in to all the official languages of the EU.
Annual Report: Synopsis of the Work of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance of the European Communitites
JX1984.E3 R299 2nd Floor
- This resource provides information of the activities of the Court of Justice and the General Court. There are summaries of the cases heard, information of the current judges and changes in the membership over the year. Detailed statistical information is presented relating to numbers and types of cases heard by each court. CURIA provides online access to the case summaries and statiistics from the Annual Reports.
The Official Journal (C Series) publishes court orders and judgments and lists of cases filed before the European Court of Justice.
Finding Aids for EU Case Law by Subject
The European Court of Justice makes available the following sources on its web site. These are accessed by using the "Research Tools" link.
Digest of Community Law (in French only)
- Alphabetical index of subject matter
- 1991-1995 (in English) - HTML document
- 1985-1998 (in French) - lengthy PDF document
- Annotations of judgments (in French only)
- Pamphlets describing the publications of the Court
- Eur-Lex has added enhancements to allow you to search by subject as well and to use Eurovoc descriptors
Electronic Databases (Case Law)
- Under case-law you can find the judgments of the European Court of Justice and of the General Court, as well as the opinions of the Advocates-General, as published in the European Court Reports and as provisional texts disseminated earlier by the Court of Justice. Full text of the opinions is available online for cases since 1998. Although not all of the cases come in .pdf format, many of them do.
- This database provides comprehensive access to cases from both the European Court of Justice and the General Court (and its predecessor the Court of First Instance) since 1989, including information from the initial application to the final judgment. Full text of the opinions is available online for cases since 1997. The database is updated regularly, with new cases added within twenty-four hours of their appearance on the Court of Justice website.
- Contains European case law from both the official European Court Reports as well as selected commercial law reporters of European Union case law.
Commercial Print Sources
European Law Reporter (CCH)
- KJE6791.A7 E96 4th Floor
- Holdings: 1962 - present
- (formerly known as Common Market Reporter)
- Selected European Commission and European Court of Justice decisions, including opinions of advocate-generals. Headnotes precede each case. Table of contents. Topic index. List of authorities cited.
- Includes European Community Cases cataloged separately at KJE6791.A7 E961
Common Market Law Reports (Sweet & Maxwell)
- KJE923.7 .C66 3rd floor reserve and 4th floor
- Holdings 1962 to present
- Selected cases from both the European Court of Justice and the appellate courts of individual member nations that resolve questions of European Union law. Published weekly, this is a roundup of actions of the European Court of Justice.
C.M.L.R. Antitrust Reports (Sweet & Maxwell)
- KJE6456.A7 C661 3rd floor reserve and 4th floor
- Holdings 1991 - present
Official Reports on EU Activities
The Bulletin of the European Union used to chronicle EU events and activities. The last Bulletin was published in 2009. All EU news and updates can now be found at Europa Newsroom Website
Bulletin of the European Union
(formerly known as the Bulletin of the European Communities)
Available bulletins have been digitally archived by Europa
- JX1981 .B8701 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1994 - 2005
- JX1981 .B87 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1968-1993
- JX1984 .E6 B875 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1958 - 1967
General report on the activities of the European Union / European Commission
- HC241.2 .A17 Cellar
- Holdings 1993 - present
- General report on the activities of the Communities (former title)
- HC241.2 .A17 Cellar
- Holdings 1967-1993
- Annual report of the Commission to the European Parliament
- The text of the Reports since 1997 are available on Europa, as are summaries of 1995 and 1996 Reports.
- The EU Publications Information Page provides a reference list of all the EU institutions and agencies websites and the publications available through them. Additionally, there are links to libraries and archives of older materials.
- The Publications Office is responsible for producing and distributing EU publications on all media and by all means. It distributes a quarterly newsletter, updating released EU publications and the most recent releases are highlighted on the home page. The website provides information on online access of select publications, as well as ordering instructions.
Journals and Periodicals
There are numerous journals and periodicals that report on and analyze EU legal developments. This section highlights finding aids and a very selective list of journals that may be particularly useful in EU legal research. For additional information on finding legal and non-legal articles, please see Finding Books and Articles on International and Foreign Law.
HeinOnline Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
- IFLP allows you to search for citations to articles published abroad (in English and other languages). Coverage is from 1985-present.
- Hein has also scanned the print IFLP which dates back to 1960.
- LAWTEL includes an "Articles Index" providing article abstracts from journals that specialize in European Union law. Coverage varies depending on individual journals, with the earliest beginning in 1999. Also of interest is the "Commentary" section which includes expert commentary on specific aspects or new developments of European Union law.
- ECLAS is the catalog of the European Commission Library. It includes documents on European affairs as well as the departmental collections of 20 directorates general. The catalog also includes web resources and secondary sources that were previously cataloged in SCAD. This database is an index and does not contain full-text documents.
Legal Journals Index and European Legal Journals Index
- Available on Westlaw, this database indexes articles from legal journals published in the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as journals covering topics pertaining to the law of the European Union and its member states. Westlaw coverage is 1986 to the present.
- Note: This database includes up-to-date information that used to be covered in the print indexes, Legal Journals Index and European Legal Journals Index, both of which have ceased publication.
European Current Law
Comp 119 Eu74 Cellar
- Monthly Digest and Annual Cumulation
- Contains digests of European Union legislation, cases and articles organized by subject; cumulative subject index
Common Market Law Review
Comp 030 C725 3rd Floor Reserve & Cellar
- Holdings 1963 - present
- Quarterly journal
- Also available electronically
European Law Review
Comp 030 Eu746 3rd Floor Reserve & Cellar
- Holdings 1975 - present
- Bimonthly journal
EU Focus: Essential Developments in EU Law and Policy
KJE2041.3 .E32 3rd Floor Reserve and 4th Floor
- Biweekly journal
- Topical summaries of EU legal developments.
- Holdings: 1997 - present.
Journal of Common Market Studies
HC241 .J6 Cellar
- Holdings 1962 - 2011.
- Electronic access to this journal is available through Columbia.
JX1 An92 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1955 - present
- Each annual volume contains a chapter on EU legal developments.
Yearbook of European Law (Oxford University Press)
JX 1 Y329 2nd Floor
- Holdings 1981 - present
- Contains selected articles on European legal topics and book reviews
- Also available electronically
European Journal of International Law
JX 1 Eu746 Cellar
- Contains systematic coverage of the relationship between international law and EU law.
- Electronic access for issues since 1990 is available.
Jean Monnet Working Papers
- Jean Monnet Working Papers provides information on EU law and politics, conferences, and research papers.
- Sponsored by the Jean Monnet Chair of the New York University Law School
Online Research Guides
- Goodson Law Library
- European Union Research Guide
- Edward Bennett Williams Law Library
- European Union Research Guide
- University of California - Berkeley
- Berkeley Law Library
- European Union Law
- New York University Law Library
- European Union Research
- University of California - Berkeley
- European Union Internet Resources
- American Society for International Law
- Marilyn J. Raisch, European Union
- European Commission Delegation, Washington, D.C.
- Essential European Union Law Websites
European Union Depository Libraries
With the extensive EU collection in the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, a researcher would usually not need to visit another library to obtain official documentation of the European Union or secondary source material on EU law. If you are unable to locate a document or information you need or you simply need some guidance on your EU research, please stop by the Reference Office on the 3 rd floor of the Law Library and ask for assistance from a reference librarian .
However, the European Union does maintain depository libraries in the United States and throughout the world. Depository libraries receive most official EU publications at no charge and in exchange provide access to the public to these EU materials. The Arthur W. Diamond Law Library is not an EU depository library. The Delegation of the European Commission in the USA provides a complete listing of EU depository libraries in the United States on their website.
The following libraries in the New York City area are EU depository libraries:
Number of Parliament Members from each Member State
| Czech Republic
| United Kingdom
| Eur. Y.B.
|| European Yearbook |
Cellar JX1 An92
|| Journal Officiel des Communautes Europeens |
2nd Floor JX1984.E1 J8
|| International Legal Materials: Current Documents |
2nd Floor JX60 In8
OFFICIAL LANGUAGES OF THE EU
As of July 2013, there are twenty-four official languages in the European Union:
Written by Jennifer Wertkin, based on a format originally created by Duncon Alford. Please send comments regarding this guide to Jennifer Wertkin, Reference Librarian, Columbia University, Diamond Law Library, at email@example.com.