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European Documentation Centre

EU legislation

There are two forms of EU legislation: primary and secondary. You can find both in the University’s European Documentation Centre.

Find primary legislation (treaties)

Primary legislation are embodied in the treaties – legal agreements between the member states. They set out the aims of the Union and establish the structures, powers, and processes through which it can pursue them.

Treaties and commentaries are shelved at section EDC 2.01.

The main text of a treaty may be supplemented by protocols and declarations. A protocol is legally binding on the member states to which it applies; a declaration has no legal force.

Find secondary legislation

Secondary legislation are regulations, directives and decisions that are used to implement the policies set out in the treaties.

The main instruments of secondary legislation are:

  • Regulation: of general application, binding in its entirety, and directly applicable in all Member States".
  • Directive: Binding as to the result to be achieved, but the choice of form and methods is left to the national authorities. In the United Kingdom, directives are implemented by an Act of Parliament, or more commonly, a Statutory Instrument.
  • Decision: Binding in its entirety upon those to whom it is addressed.
  • Recommendation: has no binding force.
  • Opinion: has no binding force.

Printed copies of secondary legislation for the years 1972-2003 are shelved at section EDC 2.1.

Secondary legislation is also printed in L series of the Official Journal of the European Union.

Find EU legislation online

Find further information and access legislation at the following websites: