Frequently asked questions

 Export PDF Print this page 

Here you find answers to the most important questions.

1. What can I find in EUR-Lex?

The database covers many types of texts produced mostly by the institutions of the European Union, but also by Member States, EFTA, etc.

The content is divided into sectors: 1 – Treaties, 2 – International agreements, 3 – Legislation, 4 – Complementary legislation, 5 – Preparatory acts, 6 – Case-law, 7 – National implementing measures, 8 – References to national case-law concerning EU law, 9 – Parliamentary questions, 0 – Consolidated legislation, C – Other documents published in the Official Journal C series, E – EFTA documents.

For a detailed overview go to: Types of documents in EUR-Lex.

Legislative procedures are also part of the EUR-Lex database. Follow the life cycle of a particular legislative proposal from the moment it is launched until it becomes law. You can also view the documents involved, details about the stage of the procedure, the decisions by each institution, the departments responsible, etc.

Go to top

2. How should I create links to EUR-Lex?

Find out all details about how to access documents and XML notices through the new EUR-Lex URI server.

Go to top

3. How often is EUR-Lex updated?

EUR-Lex is updated daily.

The electronic version of the Official Journal is uploaded in PDF, together with its signature on the day of its publication.

Contents are then processed for their individual inclusion in the database which involves detailed legal and bibliographic analysis. Even though individual documents can be loaded the very same day of publication accompanied with a limited number of analytical data (title and publication reference), the complete set of analytical data is loaded within three working days. This explains why there is a short time lapse between the appearance of the Official Journal itself and the subsequent availability of the individual acts for searching.

The frequency of updates of other documents varies because they come from different sources.

Go to top

4. What are the series, subseries and special editions of the Official Journal?

The Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) is the main source of EUR-Lex content. It appears in the official EU languages.

There are 2 series:

  • L – Legislation
  • C - Information and notices (C stands for French 'communications').
  • Within these series, there are 3 subseries:

    • A - an OJ that is an annex to another OJ
    • I – a one-off (isolated) OJ
    • M - a special edition in Maltese, or an edition that is part of a backlog in a given language.

Find out more about OJ L and C series

An OJ number comprises:

  • the letter denoting the series – L or C
  • followed by up to 3 digits
  • in some cases, followed by the letter denoting the subseries.

See the table below.

Series L Content

L

(Legislation)

(i.e. OJ L 067)

Contains EU legislation.
Subseries

LI

(Isolated)

(i.e. OJ L 011I)

A subseries introduced to make the planning and numbering of OJ more flexible. First used on 16 January 2016 (L 011I).

LM

(i.e. OJ L 118M)

The M subseries has so far been used only to publish the backlog of Maltese-language material as, by derogation, not all acts were published in Maltese initially, after Malta joined the EU in 2004.
Series C Content

C

(Information and notices)

(i.e. OJ C 100)

Other official documents from the EU institutions, bodies and agencies.
Subseries

CA

(Annex)

(i.e. OJ C 019A)

Contains vacancy notices and calls for expressions of interest. Can be published in one, several or all official languages.

CI

(Isolated)

(i.e. OJ C 015I)

A subseries introduced to make the planning and numbering of OJ more flexible. First used on 16 January 2016 (C 015I).

Historical series

  • A and P - for legislative acts published before 1967.
  • CE - for electronic documents published between 1999 and 2014.
Historical series A and P Content

A (1952-1958)

(i.e. OJ A 038)

'A' stands for French 'antérieur' , i.e. before the European Communities were set up. It covers legislative acts dating from 1952 to April 1958.

P (1958 - 1967)

(i.e. OJ P 050)

'P' stands for French 'postérieur', i.e. after the European Communities were set up. It covers legislative acts dating from May 1958 to 1967.
Subseries

CE

(Electronic)

(i.e. OJ C 296E)

For electronic versions only.

Published between 31 August 1999 and 31 March 2014, originally at the Commission's request, for COM documents. Later, the subseries was also used by:

  • the Council - to publish common positions
  • the European Parliament - for various document types (minutes of plenary sittings, adopted texts, written questions).

Documents which would once have been published in this subseries are now part of the C series.

Special editions Content

There is also a Special edition. This contains all the translated secondary legislation adopted before a country joins the EU, which is thus in force on the date of its accession. The process of translating and publishing acts starts before accession and is usually completed shortly after.

Special editions comprise 20 chapters following the Directory of EU legislation in force. Each contains one or more volumes.

Once a country has joined, the acts published in the special edition can also be found in EUR-Lex. You can browse through the special editions from the dedicated page.

Go to top

5. What is consolidation? What legal acts does it include?

Consolidation consists of the integration in a legal act of its successive amendments and corrigenda. Several legal texts initially and officially published in different issues of the Official Journal of the European Union are thus combined as a 'consolidated family' in one easy-to-read document in which you can find the current status of the EU law.

If any corrigendum is published after the last amending act was incorporated, we will consolidate it immediately, unless it provides only a minor change. In the last case it will be included into the next consolidation.

The Publications Office consolidates EU regulations, directives and decisions. However, we do not consolidate legal acts which will be in force for only a short time. Minor corrigenda in a few languages are included in consolidation with the next modifier.

Read more on consolidation.

Go to top

6. I can't find SEC documents any more.

SEC documents are published with a new identifier SWD from January 2012 on (their CELEX code remains 5 SC). You can find them via the advanced search or by clicking on EU law and related documents in the menu and then selecting Preparatory acts. SEC and SWD documents are one of the options in the left menu.  In the future, the SEC identifier will only be used for internal documents of the European Commission, which are not published on EUR-Lex.

SWD documents are published in one language, apart from the summaries of impact assessments, which are published in all the official languages of the EU.

For more information:  What are COM, JOIN, SEC and SWD documents?, Types of documents in EUR-Lex

Go to top

7. What are COM, JOIN, SEC and SWD documents?

Documents with the identifier COM, JOIN, SWD or SEC are preparatory acts (sector 5).

JOIN and SWD are new document identifiers introduced in January 2012 by the Secretariat General of the Commission.

The changes do not concern documents adopted before 2012.

Sector Author Descriptor Type of document
5 EC PC COM : Proposals and other acts adopted in the framework of a legislative procedure
EC DC COM : Other COM documents: communications, recommendations, reports, white papers, green papers
EC and HR JC JOIN : Joint proposals, communications, reports, white papers and green papers adopted by the Commission and the High Representative
EC or EC and HR SC SWD : Staff and joint staff working documents (impact assessments, summaries of impact assessments, staff working papers). Staff working documents had the identifier SEC prior to 2012. SEC will not be used anymore in the future.

 EC: European Commission, HR: High Representative

To learn more about document types and their identifiers, see Types of documents in EUR-Lex.

Go to top

8. Are documents available in all the official languages of the European Union?

The linguistic coverage is greater for the four official languages of the founding Member States, that is Dutch, French, German and Italian. For the other languages you will find translations of the legislation in force at the time of the accession of the country in question and the texts adopted after this date. Some of the texts, particularly the oldest, are therefore not available in the languages that were added during the later accessions: English and Danish; Greek; Spanish and Portuguese; Finnish and Swedish; Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak and Slovene; Bulgarian and Romanian and, more recently, Croatian.

Go to top

9. Which EU documents can I find in Irish?

Since 1 January 2007, Irish (GA) is one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. For practical reasons and on a transitional basis, only key legislation adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council is available in Irish. This means that, in general, there is no complete edition of an Official Journal in Irish. Certain treaties however have been published in Irish. These texts are available on our website in the 'Treaties' collection.

The current practical arrangement is reviewed every five years. It will stay in force at least until the end of 2016.

For more information see:

Council Regulation (EC) No 920/2005, Council Regulation (EU) No 1257/2010, Treaties

Go to top

10. What are Celex numbers composed of?

The Celex number is the unique identifier of each document in EUR-Lex, regardless of language.

A Celex number is composed as follows: SyyyyT(T)nnn(n)

S -- 1 character for the sector (see list below)
yyyy --------- 4 digits for the year (usually the year of adoption)
T(T) ------------------- 1 or 2 characters for the document type (see list below)
nnn(n) ----------------------- 4 digits (usually) for the document number.

For example, document 32008R1338 is:

  • a sector 3 document (secondary legislation):
    3
    2008R1338
  • from 2008: 3
    2008
    R1338
  • a regulation: 32008
    R
    1338
  • published in the OJ under number 1338: 32008R
    1338

Find out examples and more details about document sectors and main types of document in each sector.

Go to top

11. Celex number - Details

Document sectors

Sector Description Sector Description Sector Description
1 Treaties 5 Preparatory acts 9 Parliamentary questions
2 International agreements 6 Case law 0 Consolidated versions of sector 3 documents
3 Secondary legislation 7 National implementing measures E EFTA documents
4 Complementary legislation 8 National case law C Other documents published in the OJ C

Main types of document in each sector

Sector 3 Sector 5 Sector 6
L = directives PC = legislative proposals by the Commission
(COM documents)
CC = opinion of the advocate-general
R = regulations DC = other COM documents CJ = judgment by Court of Justice
D = decisions SC = SEC documents, JC = JOIN documents CO = order of the Court of Justice

Full list of sectors and document types (HTML)

Please feel free to also consult a more explicit document [PDF - 654KB] regarding Celex numbers, including many examples. This document has been compiled in July 2011 and it is available in English only.

Other examples

For treaties, the last 3 digits are the number of the article - for example, 11957E086 is article 86 of the EEC treaty (1957). Consolidated versions of treaties are indicated by the year of consolidation.

Celex numbers for international agreements give the publication date - for example, document 21986A0331(01) was published in OJ L 86 on 31/03/1986. If several documents are published on the same day, only the number in brackets changes, e.g. 21986A0331(02).

For case law documents, the Celex number is based on the case number issued by the Court of Justice. The year is the year the case was opened.

Corrigenda have the same Celex number as the document they are amending, with R(xx) added at the end (xx being the number of the corrigendum). For example 32009L0164R(01) is the first corrigendum to directive 32009L0164. A corrigendum may concern one or more language versions, or even all of them.

Consolidated documents (sector 3 type) have the same Celex number as the basic act, except they are sector "0" instead of "3". They are followed by the date when the last amendment entered into force (see FAQ 5).

Go to top

12. What is ECLI?

The European Case Law Identifier is a 5-part identifier for a legal document, designed to make European case law databases more usable.

Form of the ECLI

The identifier consists of 5 components, in the following order and each separated by a colon:

1. Abbreviation "ECLI"

2. Country code (2 characters)

3. Court code (1-7 characters)

4. Year of the decision (4 digits)

5. Unique identifying number (max. 25 characters, dots allowed)

More on the ECLI components.

 

Examples (EU Court of Justice)

ECLI

Document it identifies

ECLI:EU:C:1998:27

27th decision by the Court of Justice in 1998

ECLI:EU:F:2010:80

80th decision by the Civil Service Tribunal in 2010

ECLI:EU:T:2012:426

426th decision by the General Court in 2012.

 

The 5th part of the Court's ECLI is a sequential number, restarted every year and specific for each court (Court of Justice, General Court, Civil Service Tribunal). It is not the CELEX number.

 

Background

In 2011 the EU Council asked EU member countries to introduce the ECLI.

The Commission is also setting up a common search interface for ECLI and a minimum set of metadata as part of its e-Justice portal.

Go to top

13. What is ELI?

The European Legislation Identifier (ELI) :

  • provides access to EU and national law;
  • enables the sharing of information about EU and national law.

ELIs are assigned to a wide range of legislation published in the Official Journal L series (regulations, directives, decisions) and to consolidated legislation. They appear in document notices under the heading 'Title and Reference'.

Users can search among documents that have an ELI identifier or carry out a search by using the ELI URI.

The simplest type of ELIs have the following structure:
http://data.europa.eu/eli/{typeOfDocument}/{yearOfAdoption}/{numberOfDocument}/oj
There are many more types, e.g. for consolidation.

Examples

For more information, see the ELI register pages.

Go to top

14. Can I reuse the entire contents of the EUR-Lex database? How?

Yes, you can re-use EUR-Lex data, free of charge, subject to copyright conditions.

There are different ways to search for content and retrieve it.

Webservices

If you are a registered user, you can search EUR-Lex databases directly using Webservices. The search options are similar to those in 'expert search'. They supply data in XML format.

For a simpler way to stay up-to-date, use RSS feeds – predefined or customised.

More on how to use webservices.

Direct access to the database

To process data in a more sophisticated way, you can request:

  1. Notifications via database RSS feeds – to notify you of every single change.
  2. image bright idea These feeds may return very large numbers of notifications (millions a day).

  3. Direct access to your selection of content and metadata in the database, via the REST interface.

Are you interested in direct access? Then contact us and we can send you additional documentation.

image bright idea Note that given its complexity, you will need to involve experts.

Bulk download of the OJ

Official Journals (from 2004 onward) in XML format are available for bulk download via the EU Open Data Portal.

It can be downloaded by language and by year.

Go to top

15. How do I enable JavaScript?

You can enable JavaScript in your browser's Settings or Options menu. For detailed instructions on how to do this, use your browser's Helpfunction.

Go to top

16. How to create stable links to documents and notices ?

17. EU Enlargement

Eur-Lex contains enlargement pages (in the standard right menu on any page) for every new country that joins the EU. They allow you to search for provisional texts of legislation in force in new official languages.

The following functions are available:

  • Special Edition of the Official Journal/Secondary legislation – redirects you to the special editions of the OJ. For details, see the OJ help pages.
  • Browse acts by the Directory of EU legislation – browse the list of translated acts (and draft versions).
  • Search for specific acts – find the specific act in the new language.

 

Go to top

18. How to use the webservice?

Registration

How to register for a webservice:

  1. Click Webservice registration in the right menu.
  2. Click Register if you don't already have an ECAS account. Once you have registered an account, click Sign in. Read more on how to register on EUR-Lex.
  3. Click Register and fill out the registration form (see table below).
  4. Click Save to send us the form.
  5. If your form checks out, we will send you an e-mail specifying your access rights.

Information to put in the form

Used data Data you want to get from the webservice, for further use.
Final use of data What you intend to do with the data
Calling application Name of the application you intend to use to query EUR-Lex
Days of use Day of the week when you will use the webservice. One check box per day.
Call frequency Number of calls per day
Comments Additional comments
Username Your user name (prefilled - in "read-only" mode).
First name Your first name
Last name Your last name
Phone number Your phone number
Email address Your email address
Name Name of your organisation
Address Address of your organisation
Postcode (ZIP code) Postcode (ZIP code) of your organisation
Country Country where your organisation is located
Phone number Phone number of your organisation
I accept the terms of usage Your acceptance of the terms of use for webservices

Using the webservice

You can use your webservice as soon as we send you the email granting you access:

  1. Click Webservice registration in the right menu.
  2. The information you will see includes a link to the WSDL of the webservice - you will need to provide the URL of the WSDL to the application you are using to query EUR‑Lex.
  3. Call the webservice, using the username and password we emailed to you. You need to specify:
    • your query, written as an expert query. It can contain a SELECT clause, to choose the metadata to be displayed, and an ORDER BY clause, to define the sorting order. You can also use the webservice template.
    • the language
    • the page number
    • the number of results per page
  4. The results list will contain the metadata you selected, for each document. If you did not select any metadata here, the display profile defined in your search preferences is used.

Get the webservice template

If you are approved to use the webservice, you can get a special XML template to use for every query you make:

  1. Sign in and run a search (quick, advanced or expert).
  2. Click  the webservices template icon at the top of the search results.
  3. A new window will open with the query written in a structured way and instructions on how to use it in your webservice call. You can copy this template and use it for all subsequent webservice calls.

Change your webservice limits

The maximum daily number of calls to the webservice is limited. To change these limits, go to the webservices page and click the link to change the limits.

We will inform you by email about your new limits (if any). 

Unsubscribe

To unsubscribe from webservices, go to the webservices page and click the link to unsubscribe.

Give your reasons for doing so, and then click Unsubscribe

Your webservice access will be revoked and your password deactivated.

Some technical information about webservices (in English only)

  1. Search Web service User Manual
  2. Data Extraction using Web Services
  3. Web Services display metadata
  4. Web Services query metadata

Go to top