ELI news: EU Publications Office improves online publishing of legislation

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Built-in metadata structure boosts access, exchange and reuse

The Publications Office of the European Union is making it easier to find legal acts published on EUR-Lex. The portal for the European Union’s legal texts has completed the final phase of the building-in of a tailored information structure — the European Legislation Identifier (ELI).

With ELI, EUR-Lex improves accessibility of its legal information. ‘ELI boosts the access, the exchange and the reuse of legislative texts’, says Marc Küster, Head of Sector in charge of storage and electronic archiving, as well as Technical Manager of the ELI project at the Publications Office.

This should help users to find related documents, retrieve all acts published in a given year, or quickly look at a text in another language. Crucially, the metadata schema can also be read by computers. This makes it possible for machines to automatically extract, transform and process legal texts.

At the time of writing this article, the national legislation publishing sites of France (Légifrance) and Italy (Gazzetta Ufficiale) are already using ELI to link to European directives in the context of their transposition.

Implementation

The Publications Office implemented ELI in three steps. In 2015, the Luxembourg-based office assigned so-called Uniform Resource Identifiers or URIs to all acts published in the Official Journal, series L, including directives, regulations, decisions, international agreements, as well as treaties and consolidated texts of legal acts.

The second step consisted in applying ELI metadata to these legal acts. The metadata provides a standard structure to sort legal information and, importantly, makes this information machine-reusable.

The final phase of the ELI implementation was completed in March 2016, when the http ELI URIs and machine-readable ELI metadata were published through the EUR-Lex portal.

Dedication guaranteed

With the implementation of ELI, the Publications Office of the European Union has reached an important milestone. ‘ELI saves legal specialist valuable time to find information’, says Marc Küster. ‘The ELI identifiers also offer a guarantee of persistence and this is very important. Specialists can rely on the ELI URI to refer to a law on EUR-Lex, and that increases trust in the information, raising its value.’ ELI is being developed by a task force that includes specialists from the Publications Office and seven EU Member States: Denmark; Finland; France; Italy; Ireland; Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. All these Member States have implemented ELI or are in the processes of doing so in their respective legal publishing systems. As members of the task force they share their experience and know-how about ELI for the benefit of others.

More information:

ELI implementation methodology — good practices and guidelines

ELI: A technical implementation guide