EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

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A law enacted by a parliament or similar legislative body.
Akoma Ntoso
Akoma Ntoso is an initiative managed by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) and the University of Bologna. Akoma Ntoso defines a ‘machine readable’ set of simple technology-neutral electronic representations (in XML format) of parliamentary, legislative and judiciary documents. The objective is to provide a framework for the exchange of ‘machine readable’ parliamentary, legislative and judiciary documents. Akoma Ntoso XML schemas make ‘visible’ the structure and semantic components of relevant digital documents so as to support the creation of high value information services to deliver the power of ICTs to increase efficiency and accountability in the parliamentary, legislative and judiciary contexts.
An effect that changes the text of legislation.
Availability is the extent to which the data can be accessed. This also includes the long-term persistence of data.
A numbered level of division within an Act or other legislation.
‘coming into force’ date
The date on which a legislative provision or an effect comes into force.
Consistency is the extent to which the data does not contain contradictions that would make its use difficult or impossible.
[Source: Open Data Support]
Consolidation consists of the integration in a legal act of its successive amendments and corrigenda.
Content negotiation
Content negotiation is a mechanism of the HTTP protocol by which different documents (or ‘representations’) can be returned for the same URI. This is typically used to return a page in the language of the client for the same URL, or, in the context of the web of data, to return either a human-readable page or a machine-readable data file about the same URI.
Data integration
Almost any interesting use of data will combine data from different sources. To do this it is necessary to ensure that the different datasets are compatible: they must use the same names for the same objects, the same units or coordinates, etc. If the data quality is good this process of data integration may be straightforward but if not it is likely to be arduous. A key aim of linked data is to make data integration fully or nearly fully automatic. Non-open data is a barrier to data integration, as obtaining the data and establishing the necessary permission to use it is time-consuming and must be done afresh for each dataset.
(i) Any organised collection of data may be considered a database. In this sense the word is synonymous with dataset.
(ii) A software system for processing and managing data, including features to extend or update, transform and query the data. Examples are the open source PostgreSQL, and the proprietary Microsoft Access.
Any organised collection of data. ‘Dataset’ is a flexible term and may refer to an entire database, a spreadsheet or other data file, or a related collection of data resources.
The act of retrieving a representation of a resource identified by a URI
[Source: W3C]
It is not enough for open data to be published if potential users cannot find it, or even do not know that it exists. Rather than simply publishing data haphazardly on websites, governments and other large data publishers can help make their datasets discoverable by indexing them in catalogues or data portals.
A term we use to denote any one of the hierarchical levels into which a piece of legislation may be divided.
Dublin Core
The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, or ‘DCMI’, is an open organisation supporting innovation in metadata design and best practices across the metadata ecology. DCMI’s activities include work on architecture and modelling, discussions and collaborative work in DCMI Communities and DCMI Task Groups, global conferences, meetings and workshops, and educational efforts to promote widespread acceptance of metadata standards and best practices. DCMI maintains a number of formal and informal liaisons and relationships with standards bodies and other metadata organisations. Dublin Core is the common name for a generic set of metadata elements that were originally conceived as a simple mechanism to describe physical or digital resources, but developed into one of the main metadata standards for the Semantic Web.
Any impact that one legislative provision may have on another. The most familiar type of effect is an amendment that changes the text of the affected legislation, but there are also types of effect that do not change the text, such as where a provision is said to be ‘modified’ or ‘applied’.
The term ‘extent’ when used in legislation refers to the jurisdiction(s) for which it is law.
Five stars of open data
A rating system for open data proposed by Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web. To score the maximum five stars, data must (1) be available on the Web under an open licence, (2) be in the form of structured data, (3) be in a non-proprietary file format, (4) use URIs as its identifiers (see also RDF), (5) include links to other data sources (see linked data). To score 3 stars, it must satisfy all of (1)-(3), etc. The Open Definition requires data to score 3 stars in order to qualify as open, not requiring RDF or linking. This permits data of a wider variety of types and sources to be open, without the work of creating linking information.
‘Hierarchy’ and ‘hierarchical structure’ are terms we use to denote the levels of division within a piece of legislation and the relationship between them. For example, the level of a cross-heading in an Act comes below the Part level in the hierarchy, but above the section level.
Data in a format that can be conveniently read by a human. Some human-readable formats, such as PDF, are not machine-readable as they are not structured data, i.e. the representation of the data on disk does not represent the actual relationships present in the data.
The name of an object or concept in a database. An identifier may be the object’s actual name (e.g. ‘London’ or ‘W1 1AA’, a London postcode), or a word describing the concept (‘population’), or an arbitrary identifier such as ‘XY123’ that makes sense only in the context of the particular dataset. Careful choice of identifiers using relevant standards can facilitate data integration.
A structured collection of data presented in a form that people can understand and process. Information is converted into knowledge when it is contextualised with the rest of a person’s knowledge and world model.
Interoperability, within the context of European public service delivery, is the ability of disparate and diverse organisations to interact towards mutually beneficial and agreed common goals, involving the sharing of information and knowledge between the organisations, through the business processes they support, by means of the exchange of data between their respective ICT systems
The generic term for laws of any type. The terms ‘piece of legislation’ and ‘item of legislation’ are used within some of our help information to mean a whole legislative document of any type, for example an Act or Statutory Instrument.
Linked Data
Linked data is a set of design principles for sharing machine-readable data on the Web for use by public administrations, business and citizens.
[Source: Open Data Support]
Long title
Acts and Measures have two titles, the ‘short title’ and the ‘long title’. The ‘long title’ sets out the purposes of the Act, sometimes at great length, whereas the ‘short title’ is a more convenient short form by which the Act will usually be known. For example, the Petroleum Act 1998 (short title) has a long title that reads: ‘An Act to consolidate certain enactments about petroleum, offshore installations and submarine pipelines.’
Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource. Metadata is often called data about data.
[Sources: National Information, Standards Organisation]
Data in a data format that can be automatically read and processed by a computer, such as CSV, JSON, XML, etc. Machine-readable data must be structured data. Compare human-readable.
Optical character recognition (OCR) is the mechanical or electronic conversion of images of typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. It is widely used as a form of data entry from printed paper data records, whether passport documents, invoices, bank statements, computerised receipts, business cards, mail, printouts of static-data, or any suitable documentation. It is a common method of digitising printed texts so that it can be electronically edited, searched, stored more compactly, displayed online, and used in machine processes such as machine translation, text-to-speech, key data and text mining.
Open data
Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share-alike.
Open format
A file format whose structure is set out in agreed standards, overseen and published by a non-commercial expert body. A file in an open format enjoys the guarantee that it can be correctly read by a range of different software programs or used to pass information between them. Compare proprietary.
Original (Basic act or As enacted or as made):
The original version of the legislation as it stood when it was initially adopted. No changes have been applied to the text.
A provision, usually numbered, constituting the lowest level of division in a Schedule. (But note that the term ‘paragraph’ may also be used in legislation to denote certain levels of sub-division within a provision.)
A division of the main body or a schedule in an item of legislation, usually forming part of a numbered sequence of Parts.
A Part may be further subdivided hierarchically into Chapters, cross-headings and numbered sections (or paragraphs, if in a schedule).
Words appearing near the beginning of an Act after the long title, stating the reasons for passing the Act. The use of preambles is optional and they are now rare. Any preamble would appear in the introductory text.
Primary legislation
General term used to describe the main laws passed by the legislative bodies. It is to be distinguished from secondary legislation.
The processability of data is the extent to which it can be understood and handled by automated processes.
[Source: Open Data Support]
(i) Proprietary software is owned by a company which restricts the ways in which it can be used. Users normally need to pay to use the software, cannot read or modify the source code, and cannot copy the software or re-sell it as part of their own product. Common examples include Microsoft Excel and Adobe Acrobat. Non-proprietary software is usually open source.
(ii) A proprietary file format is one that a company owns and controls. Data in this format may need proprietary software to be read reliably. Unlike an open format, the description of the format may be confidential or unpublished, and can be changed by the company at any time. Proprietary software usually reads and saves data in its own proprietary format. For example, different versions of Microsoft Excel use the proprietary XLS and XLSX formats.
The term provision is used to describe a definable element in a piece of legislation that has legislative effect. Most commonly in the help documentation and messages on this site it will be used to refer to a section (or corresponding element such as a paragraph in a Schedule or an article in an Order) but it can also refer to higher level divisions such as Parts or Chapters.
Public Sector Information
Information collected or controlled by the public sector.
Resource description Framework (RDF) is a model and a set of syntaxes for sharing data in the web. The basic concepts of RDF are described in the W3C recommendation ‘RDF 1.1 Concepts and Abstract Syntax.
A primer, aimed to convey basic knowledge required to effectively use RDF, is published by W3C under the title ‘RDF 1.1 Primer’.
Specific syntaxes for the expression of RDF are given in the documents ‘RDF 1.1 XML Syntax’ and ‘RDF 1.1 Turtle’, both published by W3C. While RDF is increasingly being used for the description of resources on the Web, there are no easy ways to check validity of RDF data against specified patterns, the way that XML can be validated not just for valid syntax but also for conformance to application-specific rules. The W3C Working Group ‘RDF Data Shapes’ has been established with the mission ‘to produce a W3C Recommendation for describing structural constraints and validate RDF instance data against those’.
Resource Description Framework in Attributes (RDFa) is a way of expressing RDF-style relationships using simple attributes in existing mark-up languages such as HTML.
RDF in Attributes provides a mechanism to include data structured in RDF in HTML pages, providing a set of markup attributes that enable machine-readable information to be embedded in Web pages.
The formal specification is contained in the document ‘RDFa Core 1.1 — Third Edition’, while the approach is explained in the ‘RDFa 1.1 Primer — Third Edition’. A dedicated website outlining the objectives and the benefits of RDFa and provides pointers to informational materials and an index of tools is available at
The RDF XML serialisation is one of the possible ways of serialising RDF data, using an XML syntax (see also Turtle)
Revised legislation
We use the terms ‘revise’, ‘revised’ and ‘revision’ to refer to the editorial process of incorporating amendments and carrying through other effects into legislation.
A provision, usually numbered, constituting the lowest level of division in the main body of an Act or other primary legislation.
Serialisation is the process of translating data structures or object state into a format that can be stored (for example, in a file, or transmitted across a network connection link) and reconstructed later in the same or another computer environment.
Short title
The title by which an Act or Measure is usually known. It is to be distinguished from the long title, which sets out the purposes of the legislation.
A published specification for, e.g., the structure of a particular file format, recommended nomenclature to use in a particular domain, a common set of metadata fields, etc. Conforming to relevant standards greatly increases the value of published data by improving machine readability and easing data integration.
An item of primary legislation, such as an Act or Measure.
Statute book
A term we use to denote the totality of the statute law in force at any particular time.
Statutory Instrument
A type of secondary legislation made under authority contained in Acts of Parliament.
SPARQL is a language to query RDF data. It is to RDF data what SQL is to relational databases. An overview of the main aspect of SPARQL is contained in the document ‘SPARQL 1.1 Overview’. The formal specification is defined in the document ‘SPARQL 1.1 Query Language’.
[Source: Open Data Support]
Turtle is one of the possible way to serialising RDF data, using a text syntax. This is usually more compact and readable than RDF/XML.
A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a compact sequence of characters that identifies an abstract or physical resource. URI enables interaction with representations of the resource over a network, typically the World Wide Web, using specific protocols. An URI can be composed of:
URL: Uniform Resource Locator
URN: Uniform Resource Name
The most common form of URI is the URL, but it can also be found as an URN or as a combination of both. This last option is the one that provides URI with more consistent characteristics for the identification of resources.
[Source: ISA’s ten rules for persistent identifiers]
Uniform Resource Locator. It can be defined as a URI that provides the means to access a web resource. URLs occur most commonly to reference web pages (http), but can also have a role in file transfer (ftp), email (mailto) or even database access (JDBC).
Uniform Resource Name. It is the historical name for a uniform resource identifier (URI) that uses the urn scheme.
1. ‘Version’ may refer to the ‘as enacted’ version of the legislation or the ‘latest available (revised)’ version.
2. ‘Version’ is also used in the context of revised legislation to refer to one of any number of versions of a provision (or higher level of division of legislation) that may exist in any number of different versions, usually created as a result of amendments made to it.