Web guide EU organizations: websites and publications
About this webguide
The European Union (EU) is founded on two treaties: Treaty on European Union and Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The EU member countries have delegated some of their decision-making powers to shared institutions they have created. Besides the 7 institutions the EU has other bodies and agencies playing a specific role in the European Union organization. These institutions and other bodies publish different documents.
- provides a brief description of the institutions and bodies,
- refers to the websites,
- indicates where relevant publications can be found.
See the EU website for more background information on the institutions, bodies and agencies.
European Parliament (EP)
The European Parliament represents the EU-citizens and is directly elected via general elections. The EP has co-legislative powers in the various decision-making procedures and exerts control over the European Commission. The website contains documents by theme, background files and information on the activities of the EP.
The website includes:
- Public document register of the European Parliament offers references to the documents and hyperlinks to the texts of documents accessible to the public since December 2001. Directly accessible documents can be searched with help of the register's databank.
- Plenary provides access to documents with regard to the parliamentary activities. This is the place to search for session documents as from parliamentary term 1994-1999, such as reports, minutes, debates and motions to resolutions.
Document numbers are often used to refer to session documents. The session documents are subdivided into three categories:
- The letter A stands for the reports by rapporteurs of the various committees
- The letter B stands for the draft resolutions, oral questions, etc.
- The letter C stands for documents from other institutions (e.g. COM-document or a common position)
- EuroparlTV includes live streaming of parliamentary sessions and committee meetings, news and debate programs and educational videos
- News offers access to press releases and the press archive.
Council of the European Union / The European Council
The combined website of 2 institutions the Council of the EU and the European Council.
• The Council of the EU is the EU's main decision-making body. In addition, the Council takes care of coordinating the general economic policy of the member states, adopts the budget in cooperation with Parliament, and plays a minor role in implementing decisions. Also known informally as the EU Council (or the 'Council of Ministers'), it is where national ministers from each EU country meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.
• The European Council is the EU institution that defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union. It consists of the heads of state or government of the member states, together with its President and the President of the Commission.
The website includes:
- Public register of Council documents contains references to documents published since 1 January 1999. The register indicates which documents are accessible to the public with hyperlinks to the full text. Documents that are not available via the Public register can be requested via a digital request form.
- Topics gather together information on the latest meetings, press releases and policies related to a particular area of the Council and Europeans Council's activities.
- Press offers up-to-the-minute information on the activities, meetings and votings of the Council can be retrieved.
European Commission (EC)
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The Commission is responsible for proposing legislation, upholding the Union's treaties, the general day-to-day running of the Union, and also sees to it that the Member States implement legislation correctly, The Commission also has its own co-decision authority in certain policy areas, such as competition law.
The Commission is assisted by an extensive administrative machinery, of which the Directorates-General (DG's) are the largest autonomous units. Owing to the extensive range of duties the European Commission has, this body produces a great many documents. Besides information on the activities and policy areas, the website contains:
- Departments and services offers a survey of the departments and services by theme. From here you find links to the websites of the individual Directorates-General (DG's), where sometimes policy documents can be found that are not entered into regular databases.
- Register of the Commission documents contains COM, C, SWD, SEC and other types, including agendas and minutes of Commission meetings. This register contains references to documents and links to the document when full text is available.
- Consultations gives a survey of the consultations where parties concerned can give their input on the future European policy.
- Comitology register contains background information and documents relating to the work of committees assisting the European Commission to implement EU legislation, including all documents forwarded to the EU Parliament for information or scrutiny.
- News offers a survey of the recent press releases by theme. Old press releases can be retrieved via the Press Release Database.
Frequently occurring documents:
- COM-documents are working documents prepared by the individual Directorates-General. Various kinds of COM documents can be distinguished:
- Proposals for legislation, consisting of a proposal's text with explanatory statement.
- Policy documents, the so-called Green Papers- documents on a policy theme that are especially meant to involve interested organizations and parties in the debate. In some cases, they result in legislation.
- White Papers - documents with proposals for Community regulations in a specific policy area. They often follow a Green Paper. White Papers contain actual proposals in which debate has been assimilated.
- Reports and accounts, for instance reports on the implementation of legislation/policies, guidelines of legislation or experts' reports.
- SWD-documents (before 2012: SEC documents) are Staff Working Documents not being made generally public.
COM and SWD/SEC-documents were published in paper editions until 1999. Except for the Register of the Commission documents mentioned above, recent texts can be found via Preparatory Acts in EUR-Lex (as from 1999) and mostly also via the webpages of the individual Directorates-General.
Court of Justice of the European Union (Court)
The Court of Justice is responsible to make sure that EU legislation is interpreted and applied in the same way in all EU countries. The Court has the power to settle legal disputes between EU member states, EU institutions, businesses and individuals. The website contains information on the institution, procedures and case law:
- Case law offers a search form to search for judgments, orders, opinions from the Advocate-General and notices in the Official journal (as from June 1997). All case law of the Court is also included in EUR-Lex.
Numerical access offers access to the case-law by case number. It makes it possible to find information relating to every case brought before the Court of Justice, the General Court or the Civil Service Tribunal between 1953 and the present day.
- Dec. Nat. - National Decisions is a database containing some 27,700 references to national decisions concerning Community law from 1959 up to the present day. The references and the juridical analysis of the national decisions have been supplied by the Research and Documentation Service of the Court of Justice of the European Union
- Judicial calender gives the opportunity to search for a hearing, and via the Calendar (right margin) the activities of the Court can be easily viewed.
European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
The European Economic and Social Committee is an advisory body representing employers, trade unions, farmers, consumers and the other social interest groups. The website contains besides information on the organization and activities:
- Opinions & Documents offers access to the database with Opinions and the Register of documents (RED).
- Themes provides information on key issues and references to related documents.
Committee of Regions (CoR)
The Committee of the Regions is an advisory body composed of representatives of Europe’s regional and local authorities. The CoR has to be consulted before EU decisions are taken on matters such as regional policy, the environment, education and transport – all of which concern local and regional government. The website contains, besides information on the institution and activities:
- Opinions and Resolution offers a search form to search opinions and resolutions.
- Public Documents contains documents like briefings, reports and policy documents.
European Court of Auditors
The European Court of Auditors is the institution monitoring the EU-finances. It examines whether all revenue has been received and all expenditure incurred in a lawful and regular manner and whether the financial management has been sound The website contains besides information on the organization and the activities:
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is responsible for the monetary policy of the EU.
- Annual reports describes the activities of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and reports on the Eurosystem's monetary policy of the previous year.
- Economic Bulletin (formerly Monthly Bulletin) contains articles on the monetary policy and statistical data.
- Convergence Reports fulfil the ECB's requirement to report to the Council of the European Union at least once every two years on the progress made in the fulfilment by the Member States of their obligations regarding the achievement of economic and monetary union.
ECB regulations and decisions are published in the Official Journal, series L. Recommendations, opinions and announcements are found in the Official Journal, series C.
The European Ombudsman acts as an intermediary between the citizen and the EU authorities. The Ombudsman is entitled to receive and investigate complaints from EU citizens, businesses and organizations, and from anyone residing or having their registered office in an EU country.
- Via Search Cases can be searched for decisions and draft recommendations.
- Annual reports annual overview of the Ombudsman’s decisions.
European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) is supervisory authority devoted to protecting personal data and privacy and promoting good practice in the EU institutions and bodies.
- Opinions given on proposals for legislation that have a possible impact on data protection.
- Papers offers a survey with position, background and policy papers.
- Annual reports
- European Investment Bank (EIB) organizes the financing for EU-investment projects.
- European Investment Fund (EIF) supports small businesses.
Publication Office of the European Union is an interinstitutional office whose task is to publish the publications of the institutions of the European Communities and the European Union. Website contains links to the EU Bookshop, CORDIS (research and development) and Simap (public procurement).
- EU Agencies are separate legal entities set up to perform specific tasks under EU law. There are over 40 agencies, divided into 4 groups:
- Decentralized agencies carry out technical, scientific or managerial tasks that help the EU institutions make and implement policies. e.g. European Environment Agency (EEA), EMCDDA, EUROJUST and EUROPOL.
- Executive agencies help the EU institutions to make and implement policies, e.g. Consumers, Health and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA).
- EURATOM agencies and bodies, e.g. EURATOM Supply Agency (ESA).
- European Institute for Innovation and Technology
Where to find EU official publications?
An important information source is found in the official publications published by institutions and organizations of the EU, such as the Official Journal, European Court Reports and parliamentary records. Most of these documents are available in digital shape as from about 1997/1998. Older documents can be found in the library on paper, microfiche or CD ROM.
Check the library for a survey of the location of important official publications.