The Research and Documentation Directorate has a dual task: first, it makes available to the three Courts of the European Union the comparative law resources of its team of around 35 lawyers, covering in principle all Member States' legal systems, assisted by documentalists, and, second, through its legal analysis work, it contributes to the dissemination of European Union case-law.
The first task involves drawing up research notes at the request of one of the courts comprising the institution, primarily on approaches taken by the national legal systems in 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 uniform interpretation and application of European Union law throughout a union of 28 Member States.
This also involves a summary review of all references to the Court for a preliminary ruling, in order to identify, at an early stage of the proceedings, any problems of admissibility, for example, and to assess, where necessary, whether a case must be dealt with 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, the General Court and the Civil Service Tribunal from 1953 to the present day ;
the Digest of Community case-law, which systematically sets out the summaries of judgments and orders ;
the Alphabetical table of subject-matter, which gives, in alphabetical order, the legal questions 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 European Union case-law are supplemented by the list of Annotations of judgments setting out publication references for all the comments on the 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' sector of EUR-Lex, the inter-institutional database covering all European Union law.
The Research and Documentation Directorate also provides the Courts of the European Union with information on legal developments of European Union interest, inter alia in the form of a regular bulletin entitled ‘Reflets' (in French only). In addition, it collects the case-law of the principal courts and tribunals of the Member States in the field of European Union law, on the basis of a selective trawl of legal periodicals and contacts with many national courts and tribunals. According to their 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).Very particular attention is given to decisions made further to the preliminary rulings of the Court of Justice.