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European Union Legal Materials

Official Journal of the European Union

The Official Journal (O.J.) of the European Union publishes the text of legislation and other official acts of the European Union. It contains treaties, all types of legislation, working papers, judgments of the European Court of Justice, proposals for legislation, and other official communications between EU institutions. Prior to 2003, this publication was called the Official Journal of the European Communities. Before 1973 when the United Kingdom and Ireland joined the EU, the O.J. was not published in English. Currently, the O.J. is published daily in all the official languages of the EU. To the U.S. researcher, the O.J. is a combination of the Statutes at Large, the U.S. Treaty series, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register and the Congressional Record.

There are 2 series in the Official Journal.

  • Legislation - L Series contains legislative acts (e.g. regulations, directives, decisions), non-legislative acts (e.g. recommendations, guidelines), other acts, Acts adopted before 1 December 2009 under the EC Treaty, the EU Treaty and the Euratom Treaty
  • Communications - C Series contains resolutions, recommendations, opinions, information (e.g. joint declarations, information from EU institutions), preparatory acts, notices and announcements.

You can find more information about the structure of the Official Journal here.

According to EUR-Lex:

Effective 1 July 2013, the electronic edition of the OJ (e-OJ) is authentic and produces legal effects. However – due to an unforeseen and exceptional disruption of the Publications Office's IT systems – for the OJs listed here, it is the paper version that has legal value.

In such cases, the electronic version of the OJ is published on EUR‑Lex for information purposes only.

Resources for the Official Journal

How to find a document when you have a citation to the OJ

A regulation is generally cited by its number, then its year. In contrast, a directive is cited by its year first, then its number.

Example: Council Regulation No. 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, 2001 O.J. (L 12) 1.

This Regulation is in the L Series of the OJ in the 2001 volume containing issue 12 for that year at page 1.

How to find a regulation or directive when you only have the year and number of the document

Example: First Council Directive 77/780 on the coordination of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the taking up and pursuit of the business of credit institutions, 1977 O.J. (L 322) 30.

Assuming you do not have a citation to the Official Journal, but only the year and number, select the "Year" as 1977 and the "Number of the OJ" as 322 on EUR-Lex.