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European Union - Research Guide: Publications and Documents

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.

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:


  • Directive – Directives are legislative acts that require all EU countries to achieve a particular result but do not dictate how the result should be achieved.
  • Regulation – Regulations are legislative acts that are immediately enforceable as law in all EU countries.
  • Decision – Decisions are binding rulings 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 – These are 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.

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