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Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)

Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) are created by states through multilateral treaties that act like a constitution in that the states parties are consenting to be bound by the treaty that sets up the agencies, functions, and purposes of the organizat

C. The European Union

C. The European Union (EU)

The EU has been called a supra-national organization because it resembles both an international organization and a nation. It exercises some of the powers of sovereignty that have been voluntarily relinquished to it by its members. The European Council consists of the leaders of the EU nations; it sets the organization's political priorities and deals with particularly sensitive issues.  It gained formal status in 1992 and became an official organ in 2009.  The Council of the European Union consists of the ministers of the member nations. The ministers who attend each meeting change depending on the topic of the meeting.  The organ performs the following functions:

  • Passes EU laws.

  • Coordinates the broad economic policies of EU member countries.

  • Signs agreements between the EU and other countries.

  • Approves the annual EU budget

  • Develops the EU's foreign and defence policies.

  • Coordinates cooperation between courts and police forces of member countries. (http://europa.eu/about-eu/institutions-bodies/council-eu/index_en.htm )

The European Commission "represents and upholds the interests of the EU as a whole. It drafts proposals for new European laws. It manages the day-to-day business of implementing EU policies and spending EU funds." (http://europa.eu/about-eu/institutions-bodies/european-commission/index_en.htm )  The Commission has 27 commissioners, one from each EU country.  Each commissioner is responsible for one area of policy.  The Commission is responsible for:

The members of the European Parliament are elected every 5 years by the people of the EU.  The Parliament is responsible for:

The Parliament and the Council share the responsibility for passing legislation. The laws are implemented by the European Commission and applied by the Court of Justice.

The EU has an excellent website named Europa. Europa has sections for each of the major bodies of the EU. The most important follow:

The Europa homepage has a link to Publication and Documents. This area has links to the major sources of EU documents:

Official Journal (OJ) has two parts: L, which publishes legislation, and C, which publishes information and notices.  The OJ is published daily and is, thus, organized chronologically.

The Public Register is like a catalog to the documents of all of the EU's organs.  There is a separate Register for  the Parliament, Council of the European Union, the European Commission, European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions.  Each register contains descriptive records for the documents of its organ.  Many of the records have links to the full text of the document, but not all do.  Those that do not have full text online may be acquired by submitting a request for it.

Documents Common to All EU Institutions includes only general reports on the activities of the EU.

Documents of Individual Institutions, Agencies and Other Bodies links to the agendas of the meetings of each of the organs that are included.  The agendas list and link to the types of documents that are commonly used in each organ, ie, the types of documents of each organ generally differ from those used in other organs.

The EU Archive contains older documents, ie, Parialmentary documents from 1952 to 1999, Commission documents are those over 30 years old, etc.


The European Court of Justice is described in more detail in the guide to Dispute Settlement.

The UC Libraries do not collect EU paper documents systematically, but both the Law and Langsam Libraries have some of their documents in their paper collections. Use UCLID to find out what is available and where. Search for European Union as an author.


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