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Selective Annotated Pathfinder to European Union Law

Bryan van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie

Overview

This is a selective guide to conducting research on European Union Law. It is arranged in five sections. Part I presents the researcher with the various European Union treaties. Part II is devoted to the European Judicial system and key cases. Part III revolves around the institutions and information found within their websites. Part IV is a list of useful legal databases found within the European Union’s official online portal. Finally, Part V is a list of recommended third party websites devoted to further guiding researchers through European Union law.

Introduction

The European Union is a social, economic and political union made up of twenty-seven Member States. From its original composition of six countries in the 1950s( France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy), the EU has grown to its present size and makeup through a series of enlargements: Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark (1973); Greece (1981); Spain & Portugal (1986); Austria, Sweden and Finland (1995) and the enlargement of May 2004, which added ten new members, mainly former communist bloc countries: Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. Bulgaria and Romania were added in January 2007. By joining the European Union, the Member States agree to be bound by certain policies developed by the European Union in its attempt to harmonize trade, movement of goods and people, security and in other policy areas designated by the treatises. Some states have also agreed to enter into a common monetary policy for which the Euro is the official currency. The European Union is composed of five main governing institutions:  the Commission, the European Council, the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors.

Part I:  TREATIES

Currently, what may be considered as a European Constitution consists of a series of major treaties. The treaties are considered primary law. The date of signing varies from the date a particular treaty came into effect, as a treaty must be ratified by each member state before it becomes law. Following below, in chronological order from most recent to latest, are links to the major treaties. Many of the following treaties are excerpted from the following link: http://europa.eu/abc/treaties/index_en.htm

Recommended Treaties Overview Link
The site, maintained by the University of Zaragoza, provides a brief description of the treaties as well as the negotiations and drafts leading to the various final treaties.

PART II:  JUDICIARY

The judicial branch of the European Union is composed of the European Court of Justice, Court of First Instance and the Court of Auditors. They are based in Luxembourg. Additionally, in limited circumstances, Member States may rule on EU law matters. Member State decisions may also constitute a part of precedence in EU law.

LINKS TO A SELECTION OF KEY EUROPEAN UNION CASES

Part III:  INSTITUTIONS

Part IV:  SELECTED EUROPEAN UNION DATABASES & GUIDES

PART V:  RECOMMENDED THIRD PARTY LINKS

 

Page Updated: September 22, 2011