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Find EU Materials: EU Legislative and Executive Materials


EU treaties are housed online in two locations: EUR-Lex and the Treaties and Agreements database.  The nature of the treaty determines where it is published.

Founding treaties:  Researchers can browse founding and other major treaties entered into by member states that establish the functions of the organization, on EUR-Lex's treaty page, and may find the chronological overview to be particularly helpful.  When reviewing founding treaties and other EU legislation, note that consolidated versions reflect updates those acts make to prior treaties or legislation.

Treaties concluded by the EU (or predecessor organizations):  If searching for bilateral and multilateral treaties which the EU has entered into with states and organizations outside the EU, consult the Treaties & Agreements database.

The Treaty Office also publishes a detailed glossary defining both general and EU-specific treaty terminology that researchers may wish to consult in seeking to understand EU treaties.

EU "Secondary" Legislation

Proposed and final legislation, whether in the form of a directive, regulation, or decision, is available in EUR-Lex, and the record for the legislation typically also provides a host of information regarding the legislation's history and context, such as timelines documenting legislative procedures with hyperlinked documents, and in the case of directives, citations to national implementing measures. 

Researchers seeking legislation governing a particular topic who have not already identified relevant legislation may wish to browse the Summaries of EU Legislation offered on EUR-Lex, or browse by subject in its Directory of Legal Acts.  Much as U.S. administrative agency websites provide helpful overviews of major legal frameworks governing their areas of authority, so too do departments within the European Commission provide information for the public describing their work, and pointing to relevant legislation with links to the underlying material in EUR-Lex.  Researchers can also utilize keywords to search across legislation in EUR-Lex, searching either by title or across full-text documents.

Researchers searching for a known item can search EUR-Lex using the main search bar or the robust Advanced Search form, and may search using the legislation's title, document reference number, CELEX number, or Official Journal series citation, depending on what they already know about the legislation.

Directives - Member State Implementing Measures

Since EU directives require member state implementation, researchers who locate a relevant directive may need to complete a second research step and search for implementing measures in one or more particular member states.  Though researching foreign law can be challenging, the EU offers two tools to facilitate research regarding member state domestic implementing (also called "transposition") measures: 

  1. The national transposition annotations accompanying directives in EUR-Lex, which provide citation information to measures implementing that particular directive in each member state, and 
  2. N-Lex, a platform aggregating search tools paired with public legal databases provided by each member state.

When using N-Lex, note that database coverage will vary between member states, and that many states will only provide laws in their official language.  N-Lex's machine translation tool may be of some assistance, but researchers seeking reliable English language translations should seek out more authoritative translated publications, or the services of a translator.

Other sources of documents for EU legislative bodies

EU Legislation in Commercial Databases

EU Lawmaking

EU Executive and Policy Documents

European Commission Documents

European Council Documents