I’m going to give you an introduction to the EU law sources. We will look at the most important publications and also where to find the main online resources and databases available for free.
Most of the EU publications are available for free online today. The official journal of the European Union, OJ, is the official compendium of EU legislation and other official documents of the EU institutions, bodies and agencies. It is published everyday from Tuesday to Saturday in the official languages of EU and is available in different formats.
The L series contains mainly secondary legislation such as regulations, directives, decisions and recommendations. When you refer to the journal, you write in a certain way. Looking at an example, you see the abbreviation OJ followed by series, numbers, date and pages. You can find out more about how to write a cite in the Interinstitutional style guide published in the publication office.
This C series contains information from the main institutions like notices, guidelines, announcements, resolutions, opinions, joint declarations, preparatory acts and summaries of judgments. A reference look the same. This is a notice from the commission about definition relevant to market.
The cases are published in European Court Reports, abbreviated ECR. This is the official version of the cases. The report was published in print until 2012. After that the report is only published in a digital version. The official name is report of cases before the Court of Justice and the General Court, which contains judgment from the Court of Justice, General Court and Civil service Tribunal. It is also contains opinions and orders. For a long time is has been recommended to refer to a case by giving the reference to the report of cases like this. Since 2014, the recommendation is to refer to a case with a combination of the usual name of the case, the number in the register case number, and the number and a paragraph.
All documents are easy to find in the legal database of EU, EUR-Lex. It is a database free online, available in all official languages. The database is updated everyday. In EUR-Lex you’ll find Official Journal. Note that since the 1st of July, 2013, the electronic edition of the EUR official journal in EUR-Lex is the authentic one. EU, including consolidated legislation, preparatory acts and legislative history, EU case law, ECR in PDF, from 1970 into national agreements and other official documents. EUR-Lex entrance page gives you access to search by document number here, or quick search box, which is often enough to be able to find what you need. If necessary, you can get much more options.
Another database that is useful, you find on the webpage of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It is available for free in every official language. It contains the case from the Court of Justice, the General court, and the Civil service Tribunal. Opinions from the Advocate General, notes from the Academic Writings, and press releases about new cases. On the entrance page of the database, you find the search fields for case number, parties, and dates.
Finally, there is a huge website of the European Union, where you can find very many relevant documents. The European Union has a tradition of publishing nearly everything online. The website is translated into every official language. All the institutions have their own homepages. Those are mainly in English, German, or French.