Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

European Union - Research Guide: Publications and Documents

Official Documents

EU institutions, agencies and bodies publish official papers. They range from decisions by the European Ombudsman to speeches, communications and white papers. Below are brief explanations of some of the documents:

Legislation:
Directive – a legislative act that requires all EU countries to achieve a particular result but does not dictate how the result should be achieved.
Regulation – a legislative act that is immediately enforceable as law in all EU countries.
Decision – a binding ruling that can be addressed to an EU country, individual or company.

Other documents:
Communication – a proposal for legislation issued by the European Commission.
Green Paper – a discussion document intended to stimulate debate and launch a consultation process.
White Paper – an authoritative report addressing a specific challenge and how to solve it. Often follows a green paper.
Recommendations/Opinions/Resolutions – non-binding declarations

Publications Available through EUROPA

Each EU agency produces its own wealth of official documents that are available online. In general, the agencies provide access to documents from the past 10 years or so, but be sure to check the availability of documents from each individual register.

EU Publications and Documents can be used as a portal for all EU documents and publications, following the links to individual agency registers, or you can select the appropriate link below:

Official Documents
Legislation and Treaties
Statistics and Opinion Polls
Libraries and Documentation Centers
Historical Archives

Resources at Penn

Penn is a depository library for EU documents, most of which can be found using the Franklin catalog. To search for documents produced by individual agencies, do an advanced search with the agency name (Ex: European Commission, Court of Auditors) in the author field.