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European Union Information Research Guide

The European Documentation Centre provides information and expertise about the institutions, activities and policies of the European Union by way of helping researchers access EU documents and publications, databases and registers, archives, websites, news and reference sources.

The European Documentation Centre has been part of the EUI library since 1976 and is open to EUI researchers as well as to external users. Its print collection of official EU publications and documents, grey literature, academic books on EU institutions, as well as on international bodies such as the Council of Europe, is accessible through the EUI Library Catalogue.

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IMG_0211If you would like to find out more about EU databases or how to obtain EU documents not publicly available (Regulation 1049/2001), get in touch with the EDC librarian, or just drop in the EUI Library (top floor)

Training and instruction to individuals and groups are available upon demand, across the EUI campus.

Contact: monica.steletti@eui.eu

Need help with your research?


EDC publicationsIf you need any help tracing documents and sources for your research, get in touch with the EDC librarian, or just drop in the EUI Library (top floor)


EDC is open for service every day of the week. 

Contact: monica.steletti@eui.eu

  1. EU Treaties

  2. Secondary legislation

  3. Case law of the European Court of Justice

  4. International Agreements


EU Treaties are binding agreements between EU member countries. They set out EU objectives, rules for EU institutions, how decisions are made and the relationship between the EU and its member countries. Every action taken by the EU is founded on treaties (©EUR-Lex, 2016).

EUR-Lex provides access to:

Treaties can also be found on europa.eu. For each treaty: Date of signature; Entry into force; Purpose; Main changes and a link to the Full text.

Print copies of the Treaties are available in various European languages in the EDC Treaties collection on the second floor of the EUI Library.


 Secondary legislation is a collective term used to describe all the various types of law the European institutions can make: Regulations, directives, decisions (binding), as listed in Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU); "soft laws" (non-binding) such as communications, opinions, recommendations, white and green papers ; Delegated Acts and Implementing Acts.

Decision making in the European Union takes places by means of various legislative procedures. The ordinary legislative procedure is the default procedure. When the Treaties indicate otherwise one of the special legislative procedures is used. 

EUR-Lex gives access to Legislative procedures (Former PreLex): detailed information about the life cycle of a legislative proposal from the moment it is launched until the final law is adopted, for instance each institution's decisions and how they were taken; the services and departments involved; the legal basis of the act.

In a similar fashion, the European Parliament database OEIL, European Parliament Legislative Observatory monitors the inter-institutional decision-making process in the European Union and contains all procedures still ongoing and all procedures concluded since the beginning of the fourth legislative term in July 1994.

The two databases should be consulted together.

Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) 

Secondary legislation is printed in the L series of the Official Journal of the European Union which is available in EUR-Lex. 

Preparatory documents (COM and JOIN / SEC and SWD) accompany Commission's proposals to the co-legislators (European Parliament and Council of the EU).

  • JOIN documents are proposals, communications, reports, white papers and green papers jointly issued by the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

  • SEC documents are internal staff working documents, prepared by the Commission's Secretariat-General. Selected SEC Documents (print) related to the core research areas of the EUI have been catalogued individually and can be found via the Library catalogue. From January 2012 SEC documents are published with a new identifier "SWD documents".

  • C documents: relating to official instruments for which the Commission has sole responsibility. Some are transmitted to the Council or Parliament. Along with COM, and SEC, C documents can be found on the Commission's Register of documents.  

Delegated Acts and Implementing Acts

Comitology applies when the Commission has been granted implementing powers by a particular EU legal act  and a committee implements the fine details of the political/economic/financial EU acts concerned (individual financing decisions, decisions to place certain products on the market, etc.). This procedure is widely used in many areas, for example: internal market, agriculture, environment, consumer protection, transport, and the area of freedom, security and justice.

The European Commission maintains:

  • Register of expert groups and similar entities that provides, among other things, information concerning groups of experts involved in the preparation of delegated or implementing acts. The mission, tasks and members are listed for each group. It also offers additional information, such as statistics and activity reports. 

  • Comitology register (2008-current year) and the Old Comitology Register (2003-2008) which contain background information and documents relating to the work of these committees, including all documents forwarded to the EU Parliament for information or scrutiny.

Implementing acts can also be found on individual European Commission DGs' websites, e.g. DG Devco.


 Case law of the European Court of Justice ensures observance of the Treaty objectives. 

European Court of Justice' CVRIA and InfoCVRIA databases give access to the texts of judgments, opinions and orders of the cases brought before the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal.

 CVRIA search form includes a limited number of search fields: Case No., Names of the parties and Dates. The site also provides:

InfoCVRIA search form includes a large number of fields (dates of certain stages of the proceedings, the subject matter of the case, the type of proceedings, the legal acts of the European Union cited in the case-law, the nationality of the parties, etc.) enabling precise searching in case-law.

The historical archives of the European Court of Justice: Procedural files, Judgements and Administrative files are held at the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence.


 International Agreements are bilateral and multilateral international agreements concluded by the European Union (EU), the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the former European Communities (EC, EEC, ECSC). 

Treaties Office database of the European External Action Service contains all the bilateral and multilateral international treaties or agreements concluded by the European Union (EU), the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the former European Communities (EC, EEC, ECSC). The database does not include the “founding treaties” of the European Community and the European Union or other agreements concluded between the Member States of the European Union. It provides a summary and the full text of each international treaty/agreement as well as analytical search facilities. Agreements signed but not yet in force are identified by an asterisk (*). 

Contents of the database:

EU institutions produce thousands of documents at various stages of the decision making process which need to be carefully interpreted and analysed in the appropriate institutional context. The availability of EU documents is regulated by the right of public ACCESS to documents of the EU institutions (EU regulation No 1049/2001). 

    • Documents less than 30 years old can be open to public access (EU regulation No 1049/2001).

    • Documents more than 30 years old are open to public access (EU Regulation 1700/2003)Each institution and body has its own Historical Archives' Service to manage its documents and files throughout their lifecycle but not all of them have publicly accessible databases. In addition to the institutional archives, the Historical Archives of the European Union based in Florence is the official archives for the historical documents (older than 30 years), and documents less than 30 years found in over 150 private archival deposits from eminent European politicians, movements and associations.

    • Classified documents (restricted, confidential, secret, top secret) and documents containing sensitive information (personal data, business data, etc.) can only be disclosed once they have been declassified. These documents remain inaccessible as long as the exceptions to their disclosure last (articles 2 and 3).


EU documents available online are not centralised in a single database or website. 

(selected) EU databases of official documents:

EUR-Lex

OEIL

CVRIA

DORIE

Treaties Office database

IPEX

Dec.Nat

JuriFast

Jure

Database by the Network of the Presidents of the European Supreme Courts

FRA Case-law Database

CODICES

Historical Archives of the European Union (Florence)

ArchiPlus (European Commission)

EU Bookshop 


EUR-Lex provides direct free access to European Union law. For a quick overview of the entire site consult the EUR-Lex site map.

 Contents of the database: 

1 – Official Journal + Special editions (1952-on)  

2 – EU law and related documents: Treaties, EU Legislation, Consolidated legislation, EFTA documents, Preparatory acts (COM/JOIN/SWD/SEC documents), EU case law, Parliamentary questions and International agreements

3 – N-Lex (National law database)

4 – Legislative procedures (Former PreLex)

5 – More includes directories of EU legislation in force with divisions into further sub-sections.

List of directories:


 OEIL, European Parliament Legislative Observatory is a database that monitors the inter-institutional decision-making process in the European Union and contains all procedures still ongoing and all procedures concluded since the beginning of the fourth legislative term in July 1994. As a result, the database contains documents originating also from institutions other than the European Parliament.

 The search engine finds text which forms part of the procedure files (titles, references, summaries, etc.) but does not search the content of the individual documents linked to those files.

 EUR-Lex and OEIL are to be used in a complementary function to trace the progress of legislative proposals.


 CVRIA and InfoCVRIA database give access to the texts of judgments, opinions and orders of the cases brought before the Court of Justice, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal.

 CVRIA search form includes a limited number of search fields: Case No., Names of the parties and Dates. The site also provides:

InfoCVRIA search form includes a large number of fields (dates of certain stages of the proceedings, the subject matter of the case, the type of proceedings, the legal acts of the European Union cited in the case-law, the nationality of the parties, etc.) enabling precise searching in case-law.


 DORIE (DOcumentation et Recherche sur les questions Institutionnelles Européennes) is a database providing access to documents collected over the years by the unit in the Secretariat-General responsible for institutional issues. It contains legal instruments adopted by the Institutions, minutes of meetings of European Institutions and bodies, press releases, newspaper articles, speeches by European leaders and internal Commission notes.

Of notice are a selection of documents relating to the various intergovernmental conferences (including the 2002-03 European Convention).


 Treaties Office database  of the European External Action Service contains all the bilateral and multilateral international treaties or agreements concluded by the European Union (EU), the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC) and the former European Communities (EC, EEC, ECSC).

Contents of the database:

Ready Inventories


 IPEX, contains opinions from parliaments on or about draft EU legislation. IPEX also contains a Calendar of interparliamentary cooperation meetings and events in the European Union and a section on national Parliaments and the European Parliament providing links to relevant websites and databases in the field of interparliamentary cooperation, as well as specific procedures in EU Parliaments. IPEX is also hosting the EU Speakers website.


Two databases of the Association des Conseils d'État et des juridictions administratives suprêmes de l'Union européenne a.i.s.b.l. / Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union:

Dec.Nat contains some 29,000 references to national decisions concerning Community law from 1959 up to the present day.

 Contents of the database:

  • the national case law regarding European Union law;

  • the reference to annotations and comments in books and articles related to national decisions and judgements delivered under the preliminary ruled procedure by the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning those matters.


JuriFast contains the references and the full text of:

  • the "preliminary files" with the preliminary question submitted to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Court's answer to this question, the national decision(s) following this answer
  • other national decisions on the interpretation of European Union law (decisions without reference).

JURE, a database created by the European Commission, contains case law delivered by courts in contracting states (EU Member States and if applicable Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and the EU Court of Justice on jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters and on the recognition and enforcement of judgments in a State other than the one where the judgment was passed. This includes case law on relevant international conventions (i.e. 1968 Brussels Convention, 1988 Lugano Convention) as well as EU and Member State case law.


 Database by the Network of the Presidents of the European Supreme Courts, a meta-search engine of National Case Law created by the Network of the Presidents of the European Supreme Courts. It has been released in April 2007 and allows simultaneously queries on a number of national databases (and also of some candidate countries) containing the case law of the supreme courts of those Member States.


 FRA Case-law Database, of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, provides a compilation of European Court of Justice (ECJ) and European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case law with direct references to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It also contains a selection of national case law with direct references to the Charter from all EU Member States.

The data include a formal reference to the decisions, judgments and opinions, an abstract in English, excerpts of the paragraphs where the Charter is quoted, and if available a link to the full text document.


 CODICES, a database created by the so-called Venice Commission at the Council of Europe, contains case law on constitutional matters not only of EU Member States but also of other members of the Council of Europe.


 EU Bookshop is the official digital library of EU institutions such as the European Commission, European Parliament, Council of the EU, EU agencies and other bodies. It contains 110,000 titles and corresponding PDFs, e-books of official publications, reports, studies and more in official languages of the EU dating back to 1952.


 Historical Archives of the EU (Florence, Italy) are administered by the European University Institute of Florence. Documents from the European Institutions – as well as those of pro-European movements and personalities – are available for consultation. Holdings include:

    ●      169 fonds, 30 of which are fully digitized (total of 14.000 digitized archival files) mainly private fonds  such as  Alcide De Gasperi, Max Kohnstamm  and Altiero Spinelli

    ●      12.000 photographs

    ●      600 interviews (Oral history programs)

    ●      web archive of European institutions (europa.eu) and European agencies: an archive within the Archive that has great research potentials.

Navigating the Historical Archives of EU database: Archival descriptions can be found at each level of the hierarchy according to the  material/unit described: 1. Fonds/Collection; 2. Series; 3. File.
Search the database with keywords but remember to use contextual words in the language used for the description of the archival units: in most cases the language used reflects the language found in the source. Try the same search in more than one language (at least French and English), and refine your search with facets (archival fonds, material type, years).

Historical Archives of the European Commission database, ArchiPlus gives access to files over 30 years old and open to public access – more than 40 000 references (archival fondsminutes of meetings and speeches).

A comprehensive list of Historical Archives of the EU institutions can be found on the europa.eu website.


EUBookshop the digital library and official depository of EU official publications 

EU official publications, such as Annual Reports, Special Reports, Bulletins, Guidelines, etc. are available online on the EUBookshop platform, a digital library with publications dating back to 1952 which contains 110,000 titles and 235,000 corresponding electronic versions (PDFs, e-books) in more than 50 languages, including the 24 official languages of the EU.

EUBookshop titles are directly accessible via EUI Library Articles+ (EBSCO discovery tool).

Following Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, all EU institutions and agencies set up Registers of documents to help the general public access documents that are still in a draft stage or documents that would not be made public or published in any form. No sensitive documents are included in the Registers, unless they have previously been declassified.

Access to the Registers of documents is free. In most cases, documents are readily available (pdf), but they could also be NOT available or partially available. In these cases, filing an online “access to documents request” is necessary and does not require a special justification. 

When is it necessary to file an access to documents request?

  1. When documents are listed but are not directly accessible;

  2. When documents are listed but are only partially accessible;

  3. When documents are NOT found on the register.

In the great majority of cases, access will be granted and documents will be sent via email in PDF format, unless special restrictions apply. Requestors will receive an email from the relevant EU institution or EU agency acknowledging that, in accordance with Regulation 1049/2001, it may take up to 15 working days to process the request. The access to documents request can be filled in one of the official European Union languages.

The Registers complement Eur-Lex, the database of interinstitutional procedures, which enables users to carry out searches for documents produced by the institutions while drawing up EU laws.

The European Commission Register of documents allows to search by document type, by year, by reference number,  language and/or words in the title. In most cases the oldest documents available are from 2001, which is the year Regulation 1049/2001 came into effect. Fill in a Document Request Form for European Commission documents which are not available or are only partially available.

The European External Action Service mantains its own Register of documents

The Council Register of documents gives access to references or the contents of the Council documents from 1999 onwards. The Council Register also allows to retrieve all internal documents related to an inter-institutional procedure by introducing the interinstitutional code (consisting of: the year YYYY; the series number (4 digits); an abbreviation of the procedure in brackets: example 2011/0210 (COD). Fill in a Document Request Form for Council documents not available or only partially available.

To learn more about Council documents and Council documents transparency, see the list of the documents that are most frequently consulted.

The European Parliament Register of documents contains references to documents produced or received by the institution since 03 December 2001. In particular, legislative documents, drawn up or received in the course of procedures for the adoption of acts that are legally binding in or for the Members States. Fill in a Document request form for European Parliament documents not available or only partially available.

The European Court of Justice Register e-CVRIA provides a application form to receive and consult procedural documents in electronic format. It requires the creation of an access account/authentication (Video demonstration). Procedural documents from 1952 to 1978 should be requested directly to the Historical Archives of the EU (Florence, Italy), send an email to: archiv@eui.eu

The Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) is the main source of EUR-Lex content. It appears in the official EU languages in 2 series:

Within these series, there are 3 subseries:

Find out more about OJ L and C series.

An OJ number comprises:

  • the letter denoting the series – L or C

  • followed by up to 3 digits

  • in some cases, followed by the letter denoting the subseries.

See the table below.

 Series LContent 

 L (Legislation) (i.e. OJ L 067)

Contains all EU legislation (including secondary legislation).
Subseries   

 LI (Isolated) (i.e. OJ L 011I)

A subseries introduced to make the planning and numbering of OJ more flexible. First used on 16 January 2016 (L 011I).
LM (i.e. OJ L 118M) The M subseries has so far been used only to publish the backlog of Maltese-language material as, by derogation, not all acts were published in Maltese initially, after Malta joined the EU in 2004.
 
Series C Content 

 C (Information and notices) 

(i.e. OJ C 100)

 Other official documents from the EU institutions, bodies and agencies.
 Subseries  

 CA (Annex)  (i.e. OJ C 019A)

 Contains vacancy notices and calls for expressions of interest. Can be published in one, several or all official languages.

 CI (Isolated) (i.e. OJ C 015I)

 A subseries introduced to make the planning and numbering of OJ more flexible. First used on 16 January 2016 (C 015I).

 

 Historical series

  • A and P - for legislative acts published before 1967.

  • CE - for electronic documents published between 1999 and 2014.  
 Historical series A and PContent 

A (1952-1958) (i.e. OJ A 038)

 'A' stands for French 'antérieur' , i.e. before the European Communities were set up. It covers legislative acts dating from 1952 to April 1958.

P (1958 - 1967) (i.e. OJ P 050)

 'P' stands for French 'postérieur', i.e. after the European Communities were set up. It covers legislative acts dating from May 1958 to 1967.
 Subseries

CE (Electronic) (i.e. OJ C 296E)

For electronic versions only.

Published between 31 August 1999 and 31 March 2014, originally at the Commission's request, for COM documents. Later, the subseries was also used by:

  • the Council - to publish common positions

  • the European Parliament - for various document types (minutes of plenary sittings, adopted texts, written questions).

Documents which would once have been published in this subseries are now part of the C series.

Official sources of information about the EU

The Bulletin of the EU, published between 1958 and 2004, provides an insight into the monthly activities of the European Commission and of the other European institutions. The Bulletin is available online from 1996 to 2009 and in print in the EUI library since 1958. It is supplemented by the annual General Report on the Activities of the European Union, which the Commission is obliged to publish under the terms of the Treaties.

EU Newsroom provides several sections with up-to-date official information on EU current events, such as:

European Media Monitor (maintained by the Joint Research Centre) gathers reports from news portals worldwide in 60 languages, classifies the articles, analyses the news texts by extracting information from them, aggregates the information, issues alerts and produces intuitive visual presentations of the information.

Other Sources

Europe Daily Bulletin or Agence Europe (EUI library subscription)  is a daily news bulletin (in French and English) and one of the most authoritative sources of information on European economic and political integration. It is an essential work tool for researchers. The EUI Library provides access to electronic: Agence Europe online (2000 onwards); Microfiche: French (9/12/1957-29/12/1967, 02/01-24/05/1968); Print: English (1979-2014); Print: French (1968-2014).

Europe Diplomacy & Defence (EUI library subscription) gives information on the main decisions taken by the EU and NATO, as well as analysis and comments by those involved in and experts of defence matters, including reports and practical information.  It is the essential complement to Europe Daily Bulletin.

EUI users who would like to subscribe to the daily newsletter of Europe Daily Bulletin and Europe Diplomacy & Defence can send a request to the EDC librarian.

EUobserver (EUI library subscription) is an independent daily source of EU related news and information across the European Union since 2000. It contains news items, opinions, reports, blog posts. It offers a newsletter subscription (https://euobserver.com/my/newsletter).

EurActiv.com is a free and independent media portal on EU affairs. Set up in 1999, EurActiv's coverage of EU affairs concentrates on policy positions by EU Actors trying to influence policies at the early stages of policy and decision-making. It contains news items, views and comments, as well as fact-sheets and summaries.

Politico Europe is a Brussels-based European affairs newspaper. It is the successor of European Voice. It covers institutional affairs, EU policy, foreign affairs and more. The EUI library does not have a subscription to the online PoliticoPro sections, but subscribes to the print version. Look up the latest issues via the Library catalogue.

Financial Times Europe (EUI library subscription) provides a summary of news  on matters concerning the European Union, the Euro and European corporate affairs. It offers a daily newsletter on the top European news and opinion, selected and analysed by the FT's Brussels bureau.

Factiva (EUI library subscription) a large database that reaches across disciplines from business and current events, provides European Union news (available in various languages) from major national, international and regional newspapers. Factiva news pages are created by Factiva editors (on Menu: News Pages/ Factiva pages/choose European Union on the left). Factiva also includes the EUR-Lex website, giving access to the law of the European Union.

European Sources Online (ESO), a database curated by the EDC of University of Cardiff, provides free access to information on the institutions and activities of the European Union, on European countries, and on issues relevant to European researchers and citizens. The information is selected daily by experts in the field from various sources, including:

  • official EU documentation,
  • international organisations and national governments,
  • think tanks and research organisations,
  • textbooks and journals,
  • key news sources.

In addition to using the search page to find information, it is possible to browse the latest news on the News and Analysis page. ESO also offers a collection of Information Guides on EU Institutions, EU policies and fifty European countries.

The Council of Europe is the oldest intergovernmental organization in Europe and brings together the largest number of European countries: 47 Member States. While it is totally independent from the European Union, the two entities collaborate in certain domains aiming to defend human rights and parliamentary democracy. The organization is composed of two bodies : the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, as well as three institutions: the European Court of Human Rights, the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

The Council of Europe website is a portal with comprehensive and large source of information organised around three main subjects: Human Rights; Democracy and Rule of Law. The fourth section "Explore" gives access to the websites of bodies and institutions of the Council of Europe as well as their activities and relevant documents.


 Council of Europe online databases:

  • Central Archives' database  allows access to digital collections, including audio recordings and image files, and an increasing collection of external documents.

  • WebCAT is the collective online catalogue of the Central Archives and some of the Council of Europe's libraries and information centres that contains several thousand bibliographic records of paper archives and publications, some of which include links to full texts.

  • The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) database, HUDOC  includes the case-law of the Court (Grand Chamber, Chamber and Committee judgments and decisions, communicated cases, advisory opinions and legal summaries from the Case-Law Information Note), the European Commission of Human Rights (decisions and reports) and the Committee of Ministers (resolutions).

  • CODICES, created by the so-called Venice Commission at the Council of Europe, contains case law on constitutional matters not only of EU Member States but also of other members of the Council of Europe.

  • Yearbook of the European Audiovisual Observatory (EUI library subscription) provides a wide range of statistical data on the four main industry branches of the audiovisual sector in Europe: the film industry, television and video/DVD and on-demand audiovisual services. 

The European Documentation Centre holds a selection of Council of Europe published documents and publications:

The founding text, its Statute, was officially published as Number One in the  Council of Europe's European Treaty Series (ETS). The Council of Europe Treaty Series groups together all the conventions/treaties concluded within the Organisation since 1949. These were published in the "European Treaty Series" (ETS No. 001 to 193 included). Since 2004, this Series is continued by the "Council of Europe Treaty Series" (CETS No. 194 and following) and reprinted by the Council in "European Conventions and Agreements" (Shelf number: EDC CO-KK-66 EURCAA11) along with declarations and reservations by the parties, an explanation of the treaty process, and other useful information.

  • The printed ETS/CETS is held at the EDC (Shelf number: CO-KK-66 EURTS11 ).

  • The entire series is also available on the  CoE's conventions website.

European Court of Human Rights Cases published in:

Lists of the Court's judgments by date and subject appear in Part II of the Yearbook of the European Convention on Human Rights, together with statistical analyses of the year's cases.

Committee of Ministers' Resolutions in application of the Convention are published in: 

Documents of the Committee of Ministers and the adopted texts are available in the Archival Database, a search tool limited to documents produced by the Committee of Ministers and its subsidiary bodies. The adopted texts gather the treaties and conventions, the declarations and conclusions, the recommendations to member states, the resolutions and decisions. 

European Commission of Human Rights' Decisions (active until 1998) were published in:

Contacts

Tel. [+39] 055 4685 341

Email: monica.steletti@eui.eu

Page last updated on 21 March 2017