How to find preparatory documents and annotations in EUR-Lex

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EUR-Lex is the go-to database for finding EU legislation and case law, but did you know that you can also use it to find related documents? This article will explain how to find preparatory documents to directives and annotations to judgments by the Court of Justice and the General Court.

Directives and preparatory documents
Preparatory documents are documents used to prepare EU legislation, such as proposals, resolutions, and opinions. This blog post focuses on finding preparatory documents to directives, but you can find preparatory documents to regulations in a similar way.

The easiest way to find these documents is to first look up the directive by document number, for example 2019/790/EU (Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market).

  • Use the search box Find results by document number on the right side of the page. Enter the year and number and select ‘Directive’ as the document type.
  • There are several search results: the first is the directive; the other results are only corrigenda (corrections). Click the title of the first result to go to the directive.
  • You will now see the full text of the directive. To the left of the text is a menu with several options that lead to more information about this directive. Click on Procedure.
  • The Procedure page provides a timeline of the development of this directive with links to related documents. Hover over the coloured bullets to see the references or scroll down for a more detailed overview.
  • This overview is from the perspective of the European Commission. The European Parliament offers a similar overview on its website, including links to the relevant debates in parliament. To get there, click More information about this procedure in the blue box at the top. You will see a link to Legislative Observatory, the European Parliament’s website.
    Please note: for older directives (before 2012), the link to Legislative Observatory is at the very bottom of the page under Activities of the institutions.
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Annotations to judgments
Annotations to judgments provide an explanation or commentary on court decisions by legal experts. EUR-Lex provides lists of references to annotations published in legal journals across all member states. To find these references, first look up the court case, for example C-370/12.

  • Use the search box Find results by document number on the right side of the page. Enter the year (2012) and number (370) and select ‘EU court case’ as the document type.
  • Click on the judgment in the search results. Make sure you click the judgment, not the judicial information (= Form: Judgment).
  • You will see the full text of the judgment. In the menu on the left, click on Document information.
  • Scroll down to the heading ‘Doctrine’. This is where you will find a list of notes relating to the decision. These are references to publications in journals; unfortunately, there are no direct links to the articles. If you want to read a relevant annotation, use the reference to search for the publications in the Library’s collection. Help with finding journal articles is available on the Law Library’s website in Dutch and English.
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More information
Refer to the EUR-Lex help page for more details on searching in EUR-Lex. For more resources about European law, use the research guide on the Law Library’s website.