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Georgetown Law Library

European Union Research Guide

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

Legislative Documents

Most secondary legislation is found within the Official Journal (OJ). Like many aspects of the EU, the OJ is huge and perhaps unnecessarily complicated. Imagine cramming the U.S. Statutes-at-Large, the Treaty Series, the CFR, the Federal Register, and the Congressional Record into one large publication - you would have the equivalent of the OJ - not exactly light reading fare. However, once you understand how to use it, the OJ is an invaluable resource.

The Official Journal (OJ)

The Official Journal (OJ), the official gazette of the EU, is published daily.

The OJ is divided into five main parts. 

  • The L Series contains treaties and legislation, including directives and regulations, adopted by the Commission and Council, and other binding acts. 
  • The C Series is the "Information and Notices" section of the OJ containing non-binding decisions and resolutions of the institutions, texts of proposed legislation, Minutes of the Parliament, Commission and Council replies to written questions, opinions of the Economic and Social Committee, and notices of Court decisions can all be found in the C Series.
  • The CE Series contains Commission proposals going back to 1999. It is only available electronically (either through EUR-Lex, Westlaw or Lexis).
  • The Annex-Debates offers transcripts of plenary sessions of the European Parliament. These stopped being published after 1999.
  • The S Series contains notices of invitations to bid on EU contracts.

For most intents and purposes, the L and C series are the parts of the OJ most commonly used. 

Law: L & C Series (1974-). L Series INTL KJE 908.L6C Series INTL KJE 908.I3. The OJ Special Edition offers English translations of binding acts that were adopted before UK accession INTL KJE 908.O46. The OJ is also available on EUR-Lex from 1998 forward. You can also access the OJ through the old Westlaw and Lexis platforms, from 1952 to the present. Please keep in mind that Westlaw and Lexis have not moved their foreign and international materials to their new platforms so you cannot access the OJ through WestlawNext or Lexis Advance.

Citations - What Do the Numbers Mean?

Official Journal: 1993 OJ L 95/29 1993 = Year
L95 = Issue in L Series
29 = page # in Issue L95
Regulations: (EC) 2913/92 EC = Community initials
2913 = number of regulation numbered consecutively
92 = year
Other Legal Acts: 93/13 (EC) 93 = year
13 = number of decision or directive
EC = Community initials

You must know what type of legal act you have since directives, commission decisions and recommendations can have the same citation. For example, 93/13 (EC) could be a directive or a decision.

Indexes/Directories to the Official Journal

  • Index to the Official Journal of the European Communities Vol. 1 INTL KJE908.2 .O49 Alphabetical Index. Issued monthly & cumulated annually; covers EC legislation and lists filed cases and final judgments of the European Court of Justice. Particularly useful with year and subject. Vol. 2: Methodological Table INTL KJE908.2 .O5. Issued monthly & cumulated annually; arranged by document number with regulations listed first, followed by directives and decisions. INTL KJE 908.2.O49 and INTL Media (fiche).
  • Directory of Community Legislation in Force and Other Acts of the Community Institutions
    Produced in June and December, each publication is a cumulation including all binding secondary EC legislation in force from 1952 to the present. Volume I consists of 20 topical chapters with legislation arranged by subject. Volume II is a chronological and alphabetical index of legislation found in Vol. I. Provides quick access to complete history of legislative acts. INTL REF KJE 915.D47 and INTL Media (fiche). Also available on the EUR-Lex site in both an analytical and alphabetical index.
  • European Communities Legislation : Current Status
    Two volumes with supplement. Beginning with the entries in the English Special Edition of the OJ covering the years 1952-1973, and then on year by year basis, sets out chronologically the reference number of the legal act with title and OJ cite. Also covers legislation no longer in force. Current briefing service newsletter in separate folder. INTL REF KJE 920.E974
  • Bulletin of the European Union This has ceased being updated and is now archived on Europa - its last issue covered July-August of 2009. It reported on the activities of the Commission and the other Community institutions.  INTL REF KJE 920.E974 Available on the Web. Newer information can be found at the Newsroom site on Europa.

Other Legislative Documents

EUR-Lex - The OJ Online

The C and L Series of the OJ are included in EUR-Lex, the official database for documentation of European Community law.

The EUR-Lex site for access to the authenticated OJ is always being tweaked. Because of this, links may not always work. The EUR-Lex website is still good for preparatory documents, case law, parliamentary questions and citations to national provisions which implement EC directives.