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European Union Law

EU Legal Research

See also the following online research guides

Useful Research Tools

EuroVoc is a multilingual, multidisciplinary thesaurus covering the activities of the EU. It contains terms in 23 EU languages. This thesaurus enables researches to search the relevant databases more effectively.

The European e-Justice Portal is a useful research tool providing information on justice systems - it is designed for the layperson, as well as lawyers, litigants and researchers. It links to EUmember state and international case law and EU, member state national and international legislation.

Introduction to the European Union

The European Union (EU) is a supranational economic and political union of 28 Member States. For information on the EU member countries, see  The principal offices of the EU are located in Brussels, Belgium.

How the European Union works: your guide to the EU Institutions (free to download from the online EU Bookshop)

Europa is the official website of the European Union. it provides access to official EU documents, especially those published since 1998. Europa contains many databases on various topics - see Europa’s list of databases.

For useful brief background information on the EU on the Europa website, see The EU in Brief.

History of the EU

The Inner Temple Library has compiled a very useful History of the EU Timeline, from 1945 to the present day.

History of the EU on the Europa site.

ThArchive of European Integration is a repository dedicated to the collection of full-text materials on European integration.  

Is the EU international Law?

Although EU law may be regarded as a specific form of international law, the main body of EU law has some particular features which usually do not appear in international law. In particular, citizens can invoke rights guaranteed by EU law before courts in the EU Member States, whereas international law usually needs to be transposed into national law before citizens can plead it. Also, EU law often prevails over the law of the EU Member States. 

EU Legal System

The EU is based on the rule of law: everything it does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by its member countries.The EU is also governed by the principle of representative democracy, with citizens directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament and Member States represented in the European Council and the Council of the EU.

For background information on the EU legal system, see the useful introductory ABC of European Union Law - available to download free from the EU Bookshop.

See also:

EUR-Lex is the 'portal to European law'. It is a free legal database maintained by the European Commission that contains the full-text of treaties, legislation, court decisions, and other official documents of the European Union. It is the best free source of official and up to date EU legal information.

The principle institutions of the EU are:

Executive Branch 

Legislative Branch Judicial Branch

For an excellent overview of the EU institutions, see How the European Union works: your guide to the EU Institutions (free to download from the online EU Bookshop).

See more about these institutions on Europa.

Guide Author 

This Research Guide is created and maintained by the MLS Academic Research Service, Melbourne Law School.

Please contact us at with corrections, suggestions or comments about the Guide.