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European Union Research: Secondary legislation (regulations, directives, decisions)

This guide covers essential EU law-related sources in print and online. Links go to online sources or to more information about sources owned by the NYU Law Library.

Types and numbering of secondary legislation & acts

Types of secondary legislation: These very basic descriptions are based upon The ABC of EU Law, pp. 98-110. Please see that text 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). See also Getting Started for additional sources that describe the legislative process and the documentation system.

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

    The institutions may also take general decisions not specifically addressed to a Member State, undertaking or individual, e.g. decisions for amending treaty provisions and decisions for adding substance to treaty law. Those decisions are published in the O.J. L Series if they are legislative or the C Series if non-legislative.

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 are numbered in the format (domain, e.g., EU) YYYY/sequential #. For examples and exceptions, see Harmonizing the Numbering of EU Legal Acts

Finding in force and proposed legislation & acts by topic, number, etc.

In addition to looking for citations to EU legislation and proposed legislation in books, articles and EU cases on your topic, use the tools listed below.  To look for laws of EU Member States, see National implementation/transposition of EU law.

Official Journal

See the Official Journal tab in this guide.

Codification, recasting & consolidation