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International Legal Research: Europa and Eur-Lex

This Guide covers essential print and electronic resources for researching international and foreign law.

Europa and Eur-Lex

The Europa website is the "gateway to the EU". From Europa, one may link to Eur-Lex, which is the official portal to EU legal information.



From the Eur-Lex website, one can link directly to the Official Journal. Most users will attempt to use an Advanced Search to find a specific piece of legislation about which they have a little information.The search template enables one to focus on a specific kind of legislation (i.e. regulation) and do simple key word searches.


Search results are presented in reverse chronological order (most recent first). You will retrieve a listing of documents including a link to a “bibliographic notice” and the full text.


The bibliographic notice is worth reviewing. In addition to the providing the title and citation information, it contains EUROVOC descriptors that enable you to focus your next search and find more materials on the same topic. In addition, it contains references to chapters in the Directory of Community Legislation in Force discussed further below.


In addition to the simple search template, Eur-Lex links to a number of important collections, including treaties and legislation in force. The link to Legislation in Force is particularly useful as it leads to the Directory of Community Legislation in Force. 



As noted earlier, there is no official codification of EU legislation and the Official Journal does not provide access to the consolidated version of EU legislation. However, the Directory of Community Legislation in Force comes closest to being a code by allowing subject access to EU law. One can link to the consolidated versions of amended treaties and secondary legislation via this Directory. It is available in print and electronically at the Eur-Lex website. There are 20 chapters on 20 broad subject areas. These subjects are derived from the Maastrict Treaty (TEU). Using this Directory to find EU legislation is still challenging, however, as U.S. researchers, in particular, may not be familiar with the chapters and how laws are categorized. Another way to access EU legislation by subject is to browse the Summaries of Legislation via the Europa website.