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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, CFR, Federal Register, and Congressional Record into one large publication—you would have a U.S. equivalent of the OJ. 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.
  • 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.

The L and C series are the parts of the OJ most commonly used. 

The OJ is available on EUR-Lex (the official database for documentation of European Community law) from 1998 forward. As the EUR-Lex website is constantly being tweaked, direct links may not always work. EUR-Lex is still good for finding preparatory documents, case law, parliamentary questions and citations to national provisions which implement EC directives. 

You can also access the OJ through Westlaw and Lexis (coverage varies). 

Decoding Citations

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: Alphabetical Index KJE908.2 .O49 (microform, Media 1st Floor, Row E, Cabinet 6)
    Issued monthly and 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 JN15 .O3634 (microform, Media 1st Floor, Row E, Cabinet 6)
    Issued monthly and cumulated annually; arranged by document number with regulations listed first, followed by directives and decisions. 
  • Directory of Legal Acts
    Available on EUR-Lex, the Directory of Legal Acts is a searchable database of EU legislation arranged by subject. Also available as a freely-downloadable set of PDFs. Regularly updated. 
  • Directory of Community Legislation in Force and Other Acts of the Community Institutions
    Produced in June and December, each publication is a cumulation that includes all binding secondary EC legislation in force since 1952. Volume I consists of 20 topical chapters with legislation arranged by subject; Volume II is a chronological and alphabetical index of legislation found in Volume I. Provides quick access to complete history of legislative acts. KJE 915.D47 and INTL Media (fiche) (1984–2002).
  • 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. REF KJE 920.E974
  • Bulletin of the European Union This has ceased being updated and is now archived on (the last issue covered July–August  2009). It reported on the activities of the Commission and the other Community institutions. Newer information can be found at the News and Events page.

Other Legislative Documents

  • European Parliament
  • Debates of the European Parliament (part of the OJKJE 908.A5 (Media 1st Floor microform, Row C, Cabinet 4/A)
  • European Parliament, Working Documents (under the title Reports) KJE 5390.A3 R466 (Media 1st Floor microform, Row C, Cabinet 4/A)
  • Commission of the European Communities Documents. Also known as COM docs. Proposals and amendments issued by Commission, including explanatory memorandum. Numbered sequentially each year and referred by number and date. Citation format: COM (90) 322 final. See European Commission Documents through EUR-Lex. 
  • Economic and Social Committee, Opinions KJE 6414.52 .E23 (Media 1st Floor microform, Row C, Cabinet 4/A)