Finding EU Official Publications
EU Official Publications are published by official bodies, such as:
- The European Council (Represents the heads of Governments / States)
- The European Commission (Represents the EU as a whole)
- The European Parliament (Represents EU citizens)
- The Council of the European Union, or Council of Ministers (Represents Member States)
There are two forms of European Union (EU) legislation:
- Primary legislation embodied in the Treaties
- Secondary legislation in the form of Regulations, Directives and Decisions which are used to implement the policies set out in the Treaties
Legislative acts are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Preparatory documents are produced during the legislative process and include:
- Commission Legislative proposals
- Council common positions
- European Parliament legislative and budgetary resolutions and initiatives
- European Economic and Social Committee opinions
- Committee of the Regions opinions
Finding Preparatory documents
Treaties are the basis of European Union law and are agreed upon by all member states.
The first thing to determine is whether you’re looking for the Treaty
- as enacted (in its original form) 1951 to present day
- or as is it in force today (or at a certain point in time)
Treaties in their original form, and consolidated versions are also available in paper. Use Library search or see level 7 staff for more assistance.
Treaties are cited by title, year of publication, Official Journal series, issue/page number.
- Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community  OJ C306/01
Acts: Regulations, Directives, and Decisions (Secondary)
Regulations, directives, and decisions are types of European acts that vary in how they are applied. Read more about them.
- Regulations are acts that are binding to all member states.
- Directives are acts that allow individual member states to decide themselves how they will be implemented.
- Decisions are binding to a limited subject, such as an individual member state, or a specific organisation.
Finding Regulations, Directives, and Decisions
Legal authority: From the 1st of July 2013 the online version of the Official Journal on Eur-Lex became legally authoritative for all years. More information.
Citing Regulations, Directives, and Decisions
Regulations, Directives and Decisions are individually numbered in an annual sequence.
Regulations are issued with the Community prefix and document number preceding the year:
- Regulation (EC) No 1442/2001 of 16 July 2001 on the authorisation of transfers between the quantitative limits of textiles and clothing products originating in the Republic of India.
Directives and Decisions are issued with the year preceding the document number and Community prefix:
- Directive 2001/41/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 June 2001 amending, for the twenty-first time, Council Directive 76/769/EEC on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to restrictions on the marketing.
- 2001/41/EC: Council Decision of 22 December 2000 on the rules applicable to national experts on detachment to the General Secretariat of the Council in the context of an exchange system for officials of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union and officials of national administrations or of international organisations.
European Parliamentary Debates
Government debates allow members of Parliament to discuss:
- New laws
- Amendment of current laws
- Issues of the day
- Questions put by members before Parliament.
In reaching an informed decision, members debate all aspects of an issue or policy, often culminating in a vote.
Finding European Parliamentary Debates
Official Publications of the European Institutions
Most documents from the institutions below are available from the Publications Office of the European Union.
European Council (The heads of Governments / States)
The European Council represents the heads of state/government for each member state. It defines the general policy agenda and priorities of the EU but has no legislative role.
European Commission (The EU as a whole)
The European Commission represents the EU as a whole. It proposes new laws but cannot pass laws. The European Commission passes its proposals to the European Parliament and The Council of Ministers, who jointly adopt the proposals as law.
European Parliament (EU Citizens)
The European Parliament represents EU citizens. Members of the European Parliament are directly elected. The European Parliament works with The Council of Minister to co-adopt (pass) laws proposed by the European Commission.
- Plenary including debates
The European Parliament has 20 standing committees and three subcommittees to carry out its in-depth political and legislative work. The committees submit their reports to the European Parliament.
The Council of Ministers / The Council of the European Union (Member States)
The Council of the European Union, also known as the Council of Ministers, represents each member state with a Government Minister from each state. The Council of Ministers works with the European Parliament to co-adopt (pass) laws proposed by the European Commission.
Court of Justice of the European Union
The Court of Justice of the European Union oversees the application of EU law by member states, ensuring that it is interpreted and applied in the same was in each member state. The court also interprets EU law at the request of national courts.
- European Court Reports 2010 to present
- Numerical case law 1953 to present
- Annual Reports 1997 to present
European Economic and Social Committee
The European Economic and Social Committee represents three civil society groups: employers, workers, and various interests. They act as an advisory body to proposed legislation that covers their area. They must be consulted in most cases; however, their findings need not be taken.
Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions represents Europe’s Regional and Local Authorities. It acts as an advisory body to proposed legislation that covers their area. They must be consulted in most cases; however, their findings need not be taken.
National Parliaments have an opportunity to give a reasoned opinion to EU proposals and ensure that they follow subsidiarity – meaning the law is more effective at EU level than at national.
- In the UK, the Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee undertakes this role.*
- 1997/98 - 2010 UK Parliament
- 2020 to present day UK Parliament
- 1997/98 - 2010/12 House of Commons Parliamentary Papers Proquest database
- 1997/98 to present day Public Information Online PIO database
- In Scotland, the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee undertakes this role.
* Following the UK’s exit from EU, the European Scrutiny Committee continues to assess EU legislation and policy in relation to any possible impact for the UK.
If you require any help with locating Official Publications, please contact the Maps, Official Publications and Statistics Unit.