Did EU know? is our series on the European Union, its institutions and processes, and their jargon. You may find the other articles here
Following up on our article on finding Council documents online we will come back to the issue of finding EU legal texts and related information online. There is indeed a huge amount of information publicly available but, as usual, it is not easy to know where to start and how to filter out the more useful pieces of information.
May we introduce. EUR-Lex, the EU’s main database to access the texts and complementary information of EU law. On the EUR-Lex website you can, for example:
- Read the text of any EU law in all official EU langauges (note that for texts that have been adopted prior to accession of a Member State may not have been translated yet)
- Read the texts of all EU Treaties and international agreements that the EU has signed
- Find information about EU case law
- Find information about national law and case law (sometimes only available in the national languages)
- Read summaries of EU laws
- Find information about the status of transposition in the different Member States if the law is a Directive, as each Member State has to adapt its national laws to incorporate the EU Directive
- Find background information about the legislative procedure and access preparatory documents, such as the original Commission proposal, the Parliaments’ report, or the Council’s position
For example, if you are looking for the text of the EU Regulation on Air Passengers’ Rights for Persons with Disabilities (Regulation 1107/2006) you can search for it through a reference number or simple keyword. You can then access the text either as html or and pdf document and also download it.
The summary of Regulation 1107/2006 can give you already a general idea of the content if you are short of time or if you do not need to go into detail. If you want to know when the Regulation was proposed, who was responsible in the European Commission at the time, and what the proposal looked like you can find this in the “Procedure” file for the Regulation.
So next time you hear about a law and you are not sure what it says in the text, you can go to EUR-Lex and easily access this information. If you want to know more, you can also do the EUR-Lex “E-Learning Module” to learn about specific functions (please note that the introduction video is not accessible).