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European Union Research Guide

This guide provides information on the European Union and how to navigate among EU documents.


Like the European Union itself, this guide is large and can be confusing. If you know what part of the EU or its documents you're seeking, use the table of contents outline at the right to guide you to that specific section. Otherwise, take your time and feel free to reread sections as necessary. Also, remember that you can set up appointments with librarians if you need more in-depth help navigating the EU and its copious document trail.


The European Union (EU) is an supranational organizationthat is currently composed of 27 European countries. The member countries have decided to adopt uniform laws on a number of issues related to their economies, finances, and security. The EU has a long history and its name has changed several times. For more on its origins, read this brief history of the European Union.

For more information, see Encyclopedia of the European Union INTL REF KJE926 .E52 2000 and Europe : A concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein (4th edition) INTL JN30 .L43 2004.

Be on the look-out for eurojargon. Like the U.S. government's love of alphabet soup, the EU is no stranger to jargon. It will help to have a glossary handy for definitions of unfamiliar terminology. If you prefer a print version, we have Eurojargon : A Dictionary of European Union Acronyms, Abbreviations and sobriquets (6th edition) INTL KJE926.5 .R35 2000.

Where to Start

As is the case with beginning research on most legal topics, research guides are an excellent place to start.

  • Electronic Resource Guide [ERG] for International Law: European Union (ASIL)
    This chapter of the ERG, written by Marylin Raisch, focuses on electronic resources for researching EU law, both from the EU institutions themselves and from outside vendors. It offers an overview of Europa, the official website of the EU, as well as presenting academic and NGO websites (unofficial sources) that are of use when researching the EU. It also offers links to news feeds and blogs concerning the EU.
  • European Union Legal Materials: An Infrequent User's Guide (GlobaLex)
    This guide was originally published in the Winter 2005 issue of Law Library Journal. It has since been updated regularly. The article runs through the various EU entities, how to obtain EU legislation, case law, and treaties, and also includes information on recent articles about the EU, as well as EU depository libraries.
  • The Foreign Law Guide: European Union
    The Foreign Law Guide has recently received a much-needed facelift and is currently in Beta form on its new platform at Brill; this may lead to some formatting irregularities. This online guide covers the history of the EU as well as where to find various primary documents, both online and in print. As an added bonus, you can also search for the individual countries that comprise the EU and gather equally in-depth information about their histories and primary legal documents.
  • Research Guide: European Union Legal Materials (Columbia)
    This is a very comprehensive guide (35 printed pages) on EU legal materials. This guide touches on many of the same issues addressed in other research guides, but it also includes sections on the Euro and searching for EU documents by CELEX number. This guide also offers numerous resources in print for topics such as EU enlargement and the Treaty of Lisbon, among many others.
  • The European Union: A Very Short Introduction INTL JN30 .P55 2007
    This small volume (less than 200 pages) takes a look at the evolution of the EU from its humble beginnings as the European Steel and Coal Community in 1953 to the behemoth organization it has become. The book describes how the EU grew and what that growth means for the future. The book looks at the various institutions of the EU and discusses just what the EU does for its member countries.
  • Germain's Transnational Law Research INTL REF K85.G47 1991
    This looseleaf volume was designed for attorneys and legal researchers to use and it focuses on US-EU relations. It serves as a practice guide for those confronted with transnational legal issues but is also useful for students, as it can save research time by pointing out which resources are most helpful. Please note that this volume is no longer being updated.