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 looking for, use the table of contents on the left to go to a 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.

A Little About the European Union…

The European Union (EU) is a supranational organization that 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 REF KJE926 .E52 2000 and Europe : A concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein (4th ed.) 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 something in print, Eurojargon: A Dictionary of European Union Acronyms, Abbreviations and Sobriquets (6th ed.) INTL KJE926.5 .R35 2000 is also available.

Where to Start

As when beginning research on most legal topics, research guides are an excellent place to start.

  • Electronic Resource Guide (ERG) for International Law: European Union (American Society of International Law)
    Written by Marylin Raisch, this section of the ERG focuses on researching EU law, with resources from both EU institutions and from outside vendors. It offers an overview of, the official website of the EU, and discusses unofficial sources such as academic and NGO websites that are useful when researching the EU. It also offers links to news feeds and blogs concerning the EU.
  • Understanding European Union Legal Materials (GlobaLex)
    The article discusses the various EU entities; how to obtain EU legislation, case law, and treaties; and also includes information on recent articles about the EU.
  • Research Guide: European Union Legal Materials (Columbia Law Library)
    This very comprehensive guide covers much of the same content addressed in other research guides, but also includes coverage of key developments, such as enlargement, the introduction of the Euro, and the Treaty of Lisbon, as well as practical advice on searching for EU legislation by CELEX number.
  • The European Union: A Very Short Introduction INTL JN30 .P55 2018
    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, discusses the various institutions of the EU, and explains what the EU does for its member countries.

Anthem of Europe

European Union Motto

Update History

  • Updated October 2022 (dei)
  • Revised December 2021 (hec)
  • Revised June 2013 (hec)