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EU Legislation

  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 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). 

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) are available on EUR-LEX as well as on the Council website.


Page last updated on 15 April 2021

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