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The new EUR-Lex : more languages, but less functionalities

EUR-Lex, the online fee service of the EU official publisher, has been having a number of problems since its extension to the new languages and its merger with the Celex database (official as of 1st January 2005, but tests began in november 2004).

Just to name the main problems :

  • The expert search engine is still not available, although it has been promised for a year.
  • There is no sign of a quick coming back of the — unofficial but widely used — daily table of contents of the Official Journal (OJ) sent by e-mail. That also has been promised.
  • The RSS channels available in the old version of EUR-Lex are not in the new version.
  • I noticed six months ago that a document number was not indexed and therefore the document was not retrieved by the search engine. This document is now found by the search engine, but I wonder whether the problem has totally disappeared.
  • Lack of PDF versions :
    • old documents not available in PDF format are not converted into this format
    • the EUR-Lex search engine results does not include the OJ PDF versions, even for documents published very recently in the OJ.
  • The consolidated official texts (directives, regulations, ...) are not complete. This enormous work has been — logically — going now for years and it is understandable that the translation of UE legislation to new languages cannot accelerate the process.
  • References of national mesures of execution of EU directives are still not available (they were, in Celex).
  • The server can take quite some time to answer. Sometimes, the page which you are on just freezes. A new server has been set up in the 2005 summer to address the problem but to me, the improvement has not been clearly felt.

The merger of the old EUR-Lex and Celex and the translation and integration of the new languages have clearly been difficult jobs. The people at EUR-Lex have already brought a number of improvements to the new EUR-Lex, listed in the last three issues of the EUR-Lex newsletter. To this day, the main improvements are :

  • the OJ is available in the new member States languages
  • a more simple access to consolidated legislation thanks to a link to the consolidated version at the end of the bibliographic notice
  • in the electronic version of the Official Journal, references of Commission documents now have hyperlinks to the full text of the cited COM documents. Here’s an example
  • a help page on How to create links to documents on EUR-Lex.

Also, the EUR-Lex people are conscious of and working hard on the above mentionned problems.

But to me, as a European law librarian and as an end user, the new EUR-Lex does not serve me better than the old one nor the old Celex, to say the least. What we have gained is the OJ in the new languages but most of the old users did not need them.

So if you have a subscription to the OJ in paper or electronic format, or to any other European law database, you would be best advised to keep it for the time being.

Emmanuel Barthe
law librarian researcher