EU Law Seminar (10 December 2012)
Posted by JackieHanes on 12 December, 2012
I attended a joint BIALL (British and Irish Association of Law Librarians) and CLIG (City Legal Information Group) seminar on EU (European Union) law held at Field Fisher Waterhouse in London on 10 December 2012. Rather aptly, the course occured on the same day as the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2012.
Maria Bell (EDC and Law Librarian at the London School of Economics) provided an overview of the formation, history and enlargement of the EU and its main institutions. The European Council and the Council of Europe should not be confused. The Treaty of Lisbon (2007) has renumbered the founding treaties again. Directorates-General (DGs)are EU government departments.
Maria also provided an overview of EU legislation. Primary legislation are treaties; and secondary legislation are regulations, decisions and directives. There are also non-legislative acts (non-binding recommendations). Regulations and decisions apply directly; but directives require national implementation. There is no easy way to trace national implementation of EU directives: Eur-Lex includes some National Execution Measures (MNEs), and N-Lex will link you to national legislaton websites (in national language). The last resort is to see if the EU has started proceedings against member states in the ECJ for non-implementation of legislation. Pre-Lex (from European Commission) and the Legislation Observatory (OEIL) (from European Parliament) enable you to trace draft EU legislation (similar to a UK bill tracker).
David Percik (Library Manager BPP Waterloo, and formerly EU Librarian at the Law Society) provided an overview of the EU courts and case law. The two major EU courts are: Court of Justice (ECJ) (C-cases) and the General Court (T-cases) (formerly the Court of First Instance). There is also an EU Civil Service Tribunal to adjudicate in internal employment disputes. Do not confuse the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The ECJ will give preliminary rulings (advice to national courts on EU law), infringements (non-implementation of EU law by member states), and annulment / failure to act (judicial review of EU law). After application to the court, the most important stage is the written stage, whereas oral stages (hearings) are optional. The Advocate-General (AG) will give an advisory opinion, and the Judges give their judgment later. Judgments are published on the ECJ website on the same day, but are not official until they are published in the European Court Reports (ECRs), often with a considerable time delay. Although EU case law is available on Eur-Lex, David recommends Curia as a better source, because of enhanced search interface.
Els Braedstreet (European Commission Publications Office) provided an introduction to the new Eur-Lex database (currently testing in beta-version). Most significantly, the new Eur-Lex will bring together Eur-Lex and Pre-Lex, to give a single source for draft and in-force EU legislation. The new Eur-Lex will include a new search engine, and enable a full customisable service. It also makes use of web 2.0 technologies to provide updating services. It looks to be a great improvement on the current database, and I can’t wait for it to go live. Eur-Lex are actively seeking users to join their test-panel, and particular welcome interest from academics and students. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and to join the test-panel.
The seminar provided a useful refresher to EU law, but I did not make any earth shattering discoveries, so perhaps I know more about EU law than I credit myself with?
No fancy lunches to report on this time, although chocolate biscuits were provided with the refreshments. I had to satisfy myself with a toasted panini for lunch, as the cafe had sold out of the soup I so deperately craved to warm me up on a chilly December day. Finally, a personal highlight was seeing of few of the capital city’s iconic sights for the first time, located conveniently close to our host venue: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Gherkin and the Shard.