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  • Abbreviations are commonly used in referring to sources in literature or in publications of the institutions of the European Union. Experience has shown that there are quite a few differences between the quoting system used by the institutions and the one found in the legal literature. To establish greater reference uniformity in the legal literature in the Netherlands, the Leidraad voor juridische auteurs (Guide for legal authors) has been around for a number of years now, presenting guidelines for making references. The Citation Manual for European Community Materials produced by the Fordham International Law Journal is the equivalent for the English speaking countries, as well as the section "International Materials" of the The Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (BIG OSCOLA)
    Another very useful source is the The English Style Guide of the Translation Service of the European Commission.

    In this section, we will present a survey of ways of referring to sources of European law based on the reference system of the institutions. For the reference system of treaty articles, we refer to the Citation of the Court of Justice (under "Notice").


    Since 1993, a uniform citation system has been used for legislation. Upon the coming into force of the Treaty on European Union, the name of the European Economic Community (EEC) was changed into the European Community (EC). In citing regulations, directives, decisions, and decrees, this distinction must also be made between references from before 1 November 1993 and those after.

    Before 1 November 1993:

    • Regulation (EEC) no. 729/70
      Regulation number 729 of 1970
    • Directive 90/539/EEC
      Directive number 539 of 1990
    • Decision 92/91/EEC
      Decision number 91 of 1992

    After 1 November 1993:

    • Regulation (EC) no. 2027/95
      Regulation number 2027 of 1995
    • Directive 93/119/EC
      Directive number 119 of 1993
    • Decision 94/206/EC
      Decision number 206 of 1994

    Since 2000, the year is written in full, e.g., Regulation (EC) no.1563/2000 or Directive 2000/42/EC. Moreover, it is appropriate to mention not only the number of the Regulation or Directive, but also where it can be found in the Official Journal. A full reference is as follows.

    • Directive 7/23/EC, OJ L 181, p. 1 of 9.7.1997
      Directive number 23 of 1997, Official Journal of 9 July 1997, L 181, page 1

    The Official Journal

    The numbering of the Official Journal has changed a few times over the years, which has also affected the way it is cited.

    • Before 1 July 1967, the pages of every year were numbered consecutively:
      Official Journal of 30 October 1962, page 2553 was OJ 106 of 30.10.1962, p. 2553
    • Between 1 July 1967 and 31 December 1967, every issue was numbered from 1:
      Official Journal number 174 of 31 July 1967, page 1 becomes OJ 174 of 31.7.1967, p. 1
    • The L and C Series were introduced on 1 January 1968.
      • Official Journal, L Series, number 56 of 6 March 1996, page 1 becomes OJ L 56 of 6.3.1996, p. 1
      • Official Journal, C Series, number 208 of 22 July 1999, page 19 becomes OJ C 208 of 22.7.1999, p. 19
      • Official Journal, C E Series, number 28 of 6 February 2003, page 9 becomes OJ C 28 E of 6.2.2003, p. 9
    • The S Series was introduced on 1 January 1978.
      • Official Journal, S Series, number 99 of 2000 becomes OJ S99/2000

    Case law of the Court of Justice

    Every case brought before the Court of Justice becomes a case number. Since the establishment of the Court of First Instance (on 15 November 1989), a distinction is also made between the numbers of cases in which judgement has been rendered by the Court of Justice (C cases) or by the Court of First Instance (T cases).

    • 250/85
      the two hundred and fiftieth case brought before the EC Court of Justice in 1985
    • C-4/91
      the 4th case brought before the Court of Justice in 1991
    • T-13/92
      the 13th case brought before the Court of First Instance in 1992

    In some cases, the case number is followed by the letters ´P´ or ´R´. The P (pourvoi) means that it is an appeal in a case that, in first instance, was decided by the Court of First Instance, e.g., C-275/92 P. The R (reféré) indicates that the case involves an order of the president of the Court of Justice or the Court of First Instance, e.g., T-13/91 R.

    In referring to the judgements of the Court, it is necessary to cite the case number as well as the date of the judgement, (if possible) the names of the parties, and the location in the European Court Reports of the Court of Justice. As regards recent case law, it is possible that the judgement has not yet been published in the European Court Reports. A full reference is as follows.

    • ECJ 15 January 1986 (Pinna, 41/84), European Court Reports 1986, p. 1
      Judgement of the Court of 15 January 1986 in the case Pinna versus Caisse d´allocations familiales de la Savoie, case number 41/84, published in European Court Reports 1986, page 1

    Since 1990, the European Court Reports of the Court of Justice, in which the official texts of judgements are published, have been split into two parts. Part I includes the judgements of the Court of Justice; Part II contains the judgements of the Court of First Instance. Full references look like this, respectively.

    Part I:

    • ECJ 9 November 1995 (Francovich, C-479/93) European Court Reports 1995 p. I-3843
      Judgement of the Court of 9 November 1996 in the case Francovich versus the Italian Republic, case number C-479/93, published in European Court Reports 1995, Part I, page 3843

    Part II:

    • ECJ 14 February 1990 (Hochbaum, T-38/89), European Court Reports 1990, p. II-43
      Judgement of the Court of First Instance of 14 February 1990 in the case Hochbaum versus the Commission of the European Communities, case number T-38/89, published in European Court Reports 1990, Part II, page 43

    Documents of the European Commission

    COM documents are cited as follows.

    • COM (90) 220
      Commission document number 220 of 1990
    • COM (2000) 431 def.
      COM document number 431 of 2000, final version

    COM documents that relate to legislation also have an additional code indicating the relevant type of decision-making procedure.

    • CNS stands for consultation procedure
    • ACC stands for interinstitutional agreement procedure
    • SYN stands for cooperation procedure
    • COD stands for co-decision procedure

    SEC documents are cited as follows.

    • SEC (95) 314
      Internal document of the Secretariat-General no. 314 of 1995

    The Bulletin is cited as follows.

    • Bull.EU 3-2000, punt 1.3.4
      Bulletin of the European Union, number 3 of 2000, item 1.3.4

    or in case of a Supplement:

    • Supplement-Bull. 1/2000
      Supplement to the Bulletin, number 1 of 2000

    Documents of the European Parliament

    The numbering of the session documents of the European Parliament consists of a category indication (A, B, or C), a number referring to the session period, a number of the document itself, and the year.

    • A5-0022/00
      European Parliament A Series, commission report, fifth parliamentary term (1999-2004), no. 22 of 2000
    • A4-0015/94
      European Parliament A Series, commission report, fourth parliamentary term (1994-1999), no. 15 of 1994
    • B3-0908/90
      European Parliament B Series, draft resolution/question, third parliamentary term (1989-1994), no. 908 of 1990
    • C5-0045/00
      European Parliament C Series, document of one of the institutions, fifth parliamentary term (1999-2004), no. 45 of 2000

    Sometimes, a PE number is referred to, e.g., PE285.964. This numbering is given to European Parliament documents to be able to identify them in the decision-making procedure. You can search by PE number in the Legislative Observatory.

    Documents of the other institutions

    • CES(98) 640
      Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee number 640 of 1998
    • CdR(97) 424
      Opinion of the Committee of the Regions number 424 of 1997