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European Union Research   Tags: foreign & international law, foreign law, international law  

This guide covers essential EU law-related sources in print and online. Links go to online sources or to more information about print sources owned by the NYU Law Library.
Last Updated: Nov 20, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Secondary legislation (regulations, directives, decisions) Print Page

Types of secondary legislation & acts

See also the tab Beginning your research on EU law for descriptions of the legislative process and documentation.

Types of secondary legislation: These very basic descriptions are based upon the EUR-Lex guide above. Please see it for a more complete description of the forms of EU legislation, as well as two other forms of non-binding legal acts (recommendations and opinions) and three forms of actions for shaping the legal order (resolutions, declarations and action programs).

Numbering of EU documents in the OJ L Series:
For regulations and directives before the year 2000, only the last two digits of the year were included in the numbering.
Starting January 1, 2015, documents published in the OJ L Series will be numbered in the format (domain, e.g., EU) YYYY/sequential #. 
See Harmonizing the Numbering of EU Legal Acts for examples and exceptions. 

  • Regulations are directly applicable and binding in their entirety upon all Member States, natural and legal persons.

    Published in the Official Journal, L Series, for example: 

    Commission Regulation (EU) No 207/2012 of 9 March 2012 on electronic instructions for use of medical devices, 2012 O.J. (L72) 28.

  • Directives are binding with respect to the intended result, but each Member State chooses the form and method for national implementation

    Published in the Official Journal, L Series, for example: 

    Council Directive 2011/96/EU of 30 November 2011 on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States, 2012 O.J. (L345) 8.

  • Decisions are binding upon only the particular Member State(s), undertaking(s) or individual(s) to whom they are addressed. Directives allow the EU institutions responsible for implementing the Treaties and regulations to carry out this function. 

    Binding decisions are notified to those to whom they are addressed.

    The institutions may also take decisions not specifically addressed to a Member State, undertaking or individual. Those decisions are published in the O.J. L Series if they are legislative or the C Series if non-legislative.

    Official Journal

    See also the Official Journal tab in this guide.


      Finding in force and proposed legislation by topic, issue, etc.

      In addition to looking for citations to EU legislation in books and articles and EU cases on your topic, use the following tools to identify the legislation and proposed legislation on your issue.

      NOTE: Westlaw, WestlawNext and LexisNexis require passwords. LexisNexis Academic may be available in libraries that subscribe to it.

      • Directory of European Union legislation in force, a subject outline listing all legislation in force and related amendments. 

        Consolidated texts



      • Directory of European Union legislation in preparation

      • EUR-Lex Simple Search: Search with terms, act number, etc.

      • The Policies section of the Commission website can lead you to the most important legislation on a topic, e.g., theEconomy, finance and tax page leads to the Mergers page, which lists the relevant legislation

      • Summaries of EU Legislation, approximately 3,000 regularly updated summaries of European legislation in 32 subject areas.

      • Legislative Observatory [OEIL] the European Parliament's database for monitoring the EU decision-making process, with a focus on Parliament's legislative and budgetary powers, right of initiative, power to endorse appointments, etc. The database consists of procedure records, which contain information on the players, events and documents of a procedure, with summaries, references and links to documents. The records are in a standard format and updates are added daily. Records are searchable by words, numbers, phrases, and type of procedure or document. The database also provides Parliament's calendar and the "'information document files. . . .' sent to Parliament by the Commission on an official basis and referred internally to the parliamentary committees responsible for the relevant subject areas. The information files disappear from the database after a year, if the committee decides not to draw up a report" (quoted from the Find out more link).

      • PreLex follows the decision-making process between the Commission and the other institutions. Procedures followed are Commission proposals (legislation, budget, international agreements) and communications from their transmission to the Council or the Parliament. The documents referenced are linked to full text.

        NOTE: Westlaw, WestlawNext and LexisNexis require passwords. LexisNexis Academic, which may be available in libraries that subscribe to it, has EU materials under the International Legal tab.

      • WESTLAW: If you are using a terms & connectors search, you can include the terms and/or the classification numbers from the Directory of European Union legislation in force in the "Index" field. 

        EU-ALL: combines all the EU files in Westlaw
        EU-LEG: Official Journal Legislation 
        EU-OJCSeries: Official Journal C Series 
        EU-ACTS: Preparatory Acts, including COM documents, Council Common Positions, etc.

        All Content: International Materials: European Union Materials: Legislation

      • LexisNexis lists EU materials under Legal--Find Laws by Country or Region--Foreign Laws & Legal Sources--European Union. 
        EURCOM;ECLAW combines all the EU files in LexisNexis. 

        LexisNexis Academic: International Legal: EU, Commonwealth and Other Nations--see the Source list for coverage. 

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