The British Library is a European Documentation Centre and has acquired publications of the European Communities in print since their inception in the 1950s.
About the collection
The collection begins with the publications of the European Coal and Steel Community launched in 1951. Over time there have been significant changes to the number of copies received, and where they are held:
- Our Document Supply Services based in Yorkshire were recognised as a depository and have received all EU material from 1966 to support the inter-library loan service
- From 1973 (when Great Britain joined the European Economic Community (EEC)) to 1989, we received a second complete set of publications for reference use in the London reading rooms
- From 1989 to 2007, we received one set only to support inter-library loan which is held by our Document Supply Services in Yorkshire
- In 2007, the British Library was recognised as a European Documentation Centre (EDC) by the European Commission and began once again to receive a second set of EU documents for reference use in London
- Additional copies of selected EU publications have, where relevant, been purchased for the Library’s Science Technology and Industry and Business and Intellectual Property collections.
What is available online?
Our EU Referendum information guide (PDF format) provides links to resources on the UK's forthcoming EU referendum.
Most EU information is freely available on the Web. Please use our help guide to find EU information online.The most useful online index to EU information is European Sources Online, a free database produced by the University of Cardiff European Documentation Centre.
Some online archives of EU documentation include:
The European Union is moving from print to online dissemination of its documents and publications. Explore the British Library contains records of EU publications from 1952 to the present, with hyperlinks to the full text on the EU Bookshop website.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
The vast majority of EU, EC, EEC and European Coal and Steel Community material can be traced using Explore the British Library. Most printed EU publications have to be requested for delivery to the Social Sciences Reading Room.
A small collection of current printed publications, arranged in subject order, is available for browsing in the Social Sciences Reading Room. This includes research reports from EU agencies on social, economic and political issues and statistical material published by Eurostat as well as the Official Journal, and Commission documents on microfiche, 1983-2002
A detailed description of the collections is available in our Guide to European Union Collections in the British Library (PDF format). Given the complexity of this material, please also ask staff at the Social Sciences Reference Enquiry Desk for help with finding out if we have the documents you need
Registered readers have access to subscribed eresources on European Union law, including Eurolaw, the Lexis Library, and Westlaw UK.
What is available in other organisations?
The following organisations can provide additional information: