By Alison Shea
May 9th marks Europe Day, a celebration of all things Europe commemorating the signing of Schuman Declaration which proposed the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community – the predecessor to what we know today as the European Union. [side note: if you’re more a Council of Europe fan, they celebrate Europe Day on May 5th] Europe Day is celebrated officially across many countries in Europe, and I thought this would be the perfect time to remind our readers of all of the wonderful research tools the European Union has to offer.
Long time FCIL-SIS members may have attended one of our EU research workshops, including the one in 2015 which Alyson Drake masterfully recapped for this blog. You may have also attended the 2019 webinar where Erin Gow shared some of her top resources for non-English language EU material, or perhaps you remember our 2020 series on how the EU and its member states were responding to the COVID pandemic. And of course this very blog has a number of other European Law-related posts which you can find by clicking on the “European Union Law” tag.
To help celebrate Europe Day 2023, I asked FCIL-SIS European Law IG members to share some of their favorite EU research tools. To be fair, I gave a very short turn-around time so I’m sure many other members would have liked to share but didn’t have a chance – sorry!! But here are the responses I received, which highlight many of my own favorites:
Need legislative history resources on laws enacted in various European nations and/or the European Community, such as the European Law on Transmissible Animal Diseases (Animal Health Law of 2016)? Want to trace the legal framework that shaped Europe’s and the world’s cultural heritage, such as the Nuremberg Laws of 1935? Looking to understand the regulatory factors that impact present-day Trade Models in the European Union? Check out Europeana – a portal providing centralized access to legal and other cultural resources from digital collections of thousands of cultural institutions across Europe. Funded by the European Union, and via collective efforts of 37 aggregators, Europeana currently retains over 50 million cultural items in textual, photographic, and/or audio/visual formats. To enrich its continuously growing digitized collections, Europeana has launched a crowdsourcing project – Europeana Transcribe (Transcribathon), inviting the public to transcribe and annotate data intended to archive Europe’s cultural heritage for posterity. – Anahit Petrosyan
The Your Europe portal is a great first online stop if you are looking for information about how the law protects rights and impacts many aspects of daily life in EU member states. The EU created this site to “help you do things in other European countries,” including “moving, living, studying, working or simply travelling[.]” For example, after selecting English when you enter the site, on search form, use the menus provided to select Citizen/Consumer > Germany > Citizens’ and Family Rights > Gender Recognition. Then click Search. The single search result is to the English-language page on this topic on the German government’s administrative information portal. While the information on this page is not extensive, it does describe the basic procedural steps to complete an application to change gender, as well as a notification that, in Germany, “regulations under the German Transsexual Law are administered by Local Courts,” which may not necessarily be an intuitive first destination for people who are trying to navigate this kind of bureaucracy. Finally, this page also lists the name of the relevant law in German, with a link to the full German text of the law in the federal government’s Gesetze-im-Internet legislation portal. While some EU member states offer limited information in English in their online administrative portals, this site at least saves you from having to navigate absolutely everything in a language you don’t read that well (or at all). It points you to the right place on an official government website based on the criteria you selected in English, which means that you don’t need to wade through a million results in a Google search, or even having to figure out what to type in the Google search box. – Jennifer Allison
One of my favorite tools within Eur-Lex, the gateway to EU legislation, is Summaries of EU Legislation. It is an open access subject specific mini encyclopedia of EU law and a great place to start one’s research. Glossary of summaries offers the traditional index-like approach to exploring EU law, while advanced search (now also including a search through archived summaries) offers text/title search, summaries identifiers search (CELEX No), as well as special filters including EuroVoc or topic. The summary of legislation succinctly introduces the purpose of the law along with its key points, while also pulling together relevant and related regulations, directives, and decisions. Are you interested in knowing how EU regulates chocolate? Cocoa and Chocolate Summary of EU Legislation offers a great start. – Lucie Olejnikova
Interested in even more? Don’t forget the FCIL-SIS Newsletter has a wonderful series of Resource Reviews from the Electronic Resources IG, including Erin Gow’s 2019 review of Eur-lex (page 6). And for any FCIL-SIS members who would like to talk more about their favorite European Law resources, don’t forget to join the AALL My Communities group for the European Law IG and share your thoughts there!