European Union Research

Legal Research Guides

European Union Updated May 30, 2007; JF, with Pegeen Mulhern.

General Information

The European Union (EU)--not to be confused with the Council of Europe--is a treaty-created body of western European countries. It started in 1951 and, as of April 2007, includes twenty-five member states.

The primary objectives of the European Union are:

  • to promote economic and social progress (the single market was established in 1993; the single currency was launched in 1999)
  • to assert the identity of the European Union on the international scene (through European humanitarian aid to non-EU countries; common foreign and security policy; action in international crises; and common positions within international organizations)
  • to introduce European citizenship (which does not replace national citizenship but complements it and confers a number of civil and politic rights on European citizens)
  • to develop an area of freedom, security, and justice (linked to the operation of the internal market and more particularly the freedom of movement of persons)
  • to maintain and build on established EU law (all the legislation adopted by the European institutions, together with the founding treaties). (Source)


Essential European Union Websites

SCAD Plus: A bibliographic database with concise summaries of EU legislation in all policy areas; includes a glossary.

European Union Law: An Integrated Guide to Electronic and Print Research

EU Whoiswho, the Official Electronic Directory of the European Union

Duncan E. Alford, European Union Legal Materials, 97 Law Libr. J. 49, 74 (2005). Provides information about 11 European Union print and electronic research guides. Reprinted by GlobalLex.

Researching European Law-A Basic Introduction. A 21-page narrative guide to the European Union and how to find its law.

Finding Proposed Legislation Using EUR-Lex, also links to guides on Finding Proposed Legislation Using OEIL [the European Parliament's 'Legislative Observatory'] and Finding Proposed Legislation Using PreLex.

Primary Sources

Official Journal of the European Communities. Legislation (L-series). KJE908.L43 at Reference Area Microfiche (subscription cancelled in 2004)
Also available on the web (last 45 days), LexisNexis: EURCOM;LEGIS & Westlaw: EU-LEG.

EU Treaties are available on the web, LexisNexis: EUROPE;TREATY & Westlaw: EU-TREATIES.

EU Parliamentary Questions are available on the web (last two terms only), LexisNexis: EURCOM;PARLQ & Westlaw: EU-QUESTIONS.

EU Preparatory Acts (Legislation in Preparation; also known as Commission Documents) are available on the web  (full text), LexisNexis: EUROPE;PREPEC & Westlaw: EU-ACTS.

Primary Websites

European Court of Justice / Court of Justice of the European Communities

Official reports, "European Court Reports"
  • Reports of Cases Before the Court, 1979-89. KJE924.5.R46 at Classified Stacks
  • Reports of Cases Before the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance, 1990-date. KJE924.5.R46 at Classified Stacks
  • Decisions from the years 1958-78 are at the same call number, but decisions are in French. Note that the judgments are also printed in the Official Journal.
  • Case-law. Court of Justice cases, 1953-date; Court of First Instance, 1989-date. 
Unofficial opinions
  • Common Market Law Reports, 1962-date. KJE923.7.C66 at Classified Stacks & Westlaw (CML-RPTS)
  • LexisNexis: EURCOM;ECJ, 1954-date
  • Westlaw: EU-CS, 1954-date
  • European Current Law, 1995-date. Not available at the Gallagher Law Library.
Other reports
  • European Court Reports: Reports of European Community Staff Cases (ECR-SC). 1994 to date, KJE924.5.E97 at Suzzallo/Allen Stacks & Suzzallo GovPubs Reference
  • Digest of Case Law Relating to the European Communities. CJ/EC D569 at Suzzallo Gov Pubs Stacks International. The Digest comprises two series, A-series and D-series.
  • Official Journal of the European Communities. Information and Notices (C-series).  KJE908.I53 at Reference Area Room Microfiche. The Official Journal C-series is also available on the web (last 45 days), LexisNexis: EURCOM;LEGIS & Westlaw EU-OJCSERIES.

Mixed Primary and Secondary Sources

European Union Law Reporter (CCH). KJE925.5.C65 at Reference Area
A looseleaf service with selected texts, digests, and commentary. Selected case reporting from 1989-date can be found in companion service, European Community Cases (CCH). KJE925.5.E9 at Reference Area

The Legislative Observatory is one of the best sources for tracking legislation within the EU.

PreLex is a database on inter-institutional procedures that follows the major stages of the decision-making process between institutions.

The Jean Monnet Program website includes an extensive collection of working papers on the EU and numerous other resources.

European Union Law in a Nutshell. KJE949.F55 at Reference Area
Provides an overview of EU law and institutions.

The Foundations of European Community Law: An Introduction to the Constitutional and Administrative Law of the European Community. KJE947.H37 at Classified Stacks
An introduction to the law of the European Union.

A Guide to European Union Law. KJE947.M38 at Reference Office
An introduction to EU institutions and law.

Directory of Community Legislation in Force and Other Acts of the Community Institutions. KJA0.D57 at Reference Area Microfiche
Organizes the legislation within the analytical structure of European Union law and lists European Union legislation by subject areas.

LexisNexis: WORLD;EUOBSV. The EU Observer is a daily news source.

Other Organizations

For information about the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights, see the Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO) research guide.

The European Patent Office was created by a 1973 Convention and is not a  part of the EU or the Council of Europe.

The Committee of Regions