The Research and Documentation Directorate has a twofold task: first, it makes available to the two Courts of the European Union the comparative law resources of its team of around 35 lawyers, covering in principle all the Member States’ legal systems, assisted by documentalists, and, second, through its legal analysis work, it contributes to the dissemination of EU case-law.
The first task involves drawing up research notes at the request of one of the courts which the institution comprises, primarily on approaches taken in the national legal systems of the Member States to resolve a given legal issue. This comparative law approach is very useful to the Courts of the European Union, whose essential mission is to ensure the uniform interpretation and application of EU law throughout a union of 28 Member States.
This also involves a summary review of all requests for a preliminary ruling made to the Court, in order to identify, at an early stage of the proceedings, any problems relating, for example, to the admissibility of the reference, and to assess, where necessary, the need to deal with a case under the urgent preliminary ruling procedure.
As part of its second task, under the supervision of the Judge-Rapporteur, the directorate drafts the summaries of the judgments and orders published in the European Court Reports. On the basis of that analysis, the results of which are saved in a number of databases, the directorate is able to create a number of research tools available on this website.
These tools include:
- Numerical access to the case-law, which makes it possible to find information on every case brought before the Court of Justice and the General Court between 1953 and the present day, and before the Civil Service Tribunal between 2005 and 2016;
- the Digest of case-law, a systematic collection of the summaries of judgments and orders;
- the Alphabetical table of subject-matter, which sets out, in alphabetical order, the legal issues considered in the decisions of the Courts of the European Union delivered since 1 January 1985 and in the related Opinions of the Advocates General.
These various tools for accessing EU case-law are supplemented by the list of Annotations of judgmentssetting out publication references for all commentaries on judgments of the three Courts of the European Union which have been published in the law journals to which the Library subscribes.
The databases are also used to supply the ‘case-law’ section of EUR-Lex, the interinstitutional database covering all EU law.
The Research and Documentation Directorate also provides the Courts of the European Union with information on legal developments of EU interest, inter alia, in the form of a regular bulletin entitled ‘Reflets’ (available in French only). In addition, it collects the case-law of the principal courts and tribunals of the Member States in the field of EU law, on the basis of a selective trawl of legal periodicals and contacts with many national courts and tribunals. According to the level of interest, the decisions collected are briefly analysed and published in a database held by the Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union i.n.p.a. / Association des Conseils d’État et des juridictions administratives suprêmes de l’Union européenne a.i.s.b.l. (English / French). Particular attention is paid to decisions made further to the preliminary rulings of the Court of Justice.