Articles filed under European Union

Europa is the official website of the European Union and the starting place for all information on the Institutions of Europe. It is a complex site, attempting to provide information for many different types of viewer – from children, students and adult viewers through to politicians and lawyers looking for the “nitty gritty” of the EU. Indeed, this is probably one of the most complex sites in the world, with so many types of viewer, so many institutions and so many languages – anyone else’s design problems pale into insignificance!

After choosing your language from the 24 available, you are presented with information on how the EU works (countries, facts and figures, institutions), Your Life in the EU, EU by Topic (agriculture, trade, economic affairs etc), Doing Business, and EU Law. The section on EU Law describes how decisions are made, the Application of EU Law, Treaties, Legislation and Case Law. Although headed “EU Law”, this section is designed for citizens rather than lawyers as such. For the full legal complexity of the European Union, see the Eur-Lex site, described later, below.

When we use e-resources in the law, there has been a tendency to value the paid resources over the free ones. Sometimes the free resources are not seen as truly comprehensive collections, whereas the purchased ones are; sometimes the linking and cross referencing is more sophisticated in the commercial databases; often the value-added editorial content of headnotes prepared by legal editors has been enough to justify the outlay for these reports and legislation online.

A recent example of providing the depth of functionality one would expect from a purchased resource is provided by the new version of Eur-Lex, which offers a set of legislative and case law resources that are core for many lawyers in the EU and beyond.

Suddenly, this summer, the Europa site changed completely. Here are a few notes about the new site and the websites of some of the other Institutions of Europe.

Although the original version of Europa, launched in in 1995, simply provided a basic overview of European policies, the site has now become a single access point for official information from all the European institutions. Researchers at all levels, from school children to professors, can find relevant material, and also have direct access to official documents, most of which are now published online. According to its own statistics, Europa currently contains over 6 million documents, taking into account different language versions.

Significant developments in 2006 covered in this article include the Statute Law Database, growth and a new look for BAILII, a redesign of the Europa site, an OFT report on public sector information and substantial growth and development of blogs and wikis. Predictions for 2007 focus largely on so-called “social software”.