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Law - European Union Research: Finding EU Legislation

Retrieving by Citation

If you want to go directly to the Official Journal, you need the official Journal citation (including the year).  For example, OJ L330, 16.12.2009, p. 28-36 means the Official Journal, issue 330 of the L series, December, 16th 2009, p. 28-36. 

In Lexis you can do a Get a Document search for the Official Journal number .  If you know the directive number, you can do a title segment search in the Lexis EURCOM;ECLAW  source (for example title(83/447) which will give you the directive and all amending directives). 

In Westlaw, do a Find search for the Official Journal number. You can also do a Field search in the Westlaw databases Eu-All, Eu-LEG, or EU-OJCSERIES (for example ti(83/447) ).

Types of EU Legislation

“A European Union statutory text is considered Secondary Legislation within the legal framework of the EU, with the treaties serving as the Primary Legislation. Can be any one of three types:

  • regulations, binding directly on member states;
  • directives, framework statutes binding only through enactment of a law within the member state of a similar law or amendment to laws harmonizing the member state's laws with the requirements of the directive;
  • decisions, of the European Council or Commission, binding only on the member states or parties to which it is addressed in interpreting the treaty, but indicative of the thinking of the body promulgating it and so a pointer to general policy for member states.”

Basic EU Statutory Text

The Basic Source of EU statutory texts is Official Journal of the European Communities. (Can find most EU legislation in “Part L”).  Series C (Communication) contains notices and other communications.  Best researched on the web using the official CELEX database via the Eur-Lex portal. The official Journal is also available on Lexis and Westlaw.

Directory of Community Legislation in Force

Official Journal legislation is not codified by subject at a later date, but a good reference is the Directory of Community Legislation in Force, which can be browsed via the Eur-Lex website:

Subject Guide

Summaries of Eu Legislation

Summaries of EU Legislation  presents overviews of the main aspects of European Union legislation in a concise and easy-to-read manner.  

Search Tip

Many EU websites allow browsing and are indexed/organized according to a common structure derived from the sections of the major EU treaties.  Major topics in the Summaries of European Legislation web page, for example, include Economic and monetary affairs, Justice, freedom, and security, Consumers, Environment, and Human Rights.