Easy access to information about EU and Member State legislation.

Given the discrepancies between Member States' legal systems at regional, national and European levels, it is important that citizens be provided with simple, effective access to information about national and European legislation. As part of the introduction of the area of freedom, security and justice, ELI offers easy, rapid access to this data.

The Council conclusions (2012/C 325/02) call for the introduction of the European Legislation Identifier (ELI) as a simple means to access information about the EU and Member States' legal systems.

The role of the European Legislation Identifier

There has been a considerable upswing in exchange of legal information at European level. On the whole, this data comes from regional, national and European bodies. Nevertheless, the exchange of legal information is greatly limited by differences between the legal systems at national and EU levels.

The introduction of ELI will provide harmonised, stable referencing of European and Member State legislation. This will result in faster and more effective search capabilities and a system for exchanging data accessible to the public as well as information for a more restricted audience such as legislators, judges and legal professionals.

How ELI works

ELI is partly based on the use of Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs), and partly on a set of structured metadata for referencing European and domestic legislation. Lastly, with an eye to fully taking advantage of the semantic Web, ELI is based on the implementation of a specific language for exchanging this data.

Nevertheless, Member States have the possibility of continuing to manage legislative information as they see fit.

Requirements for Member States wishing to implement ELI

Implementation of ELI is optional. Member States and the EU may decide to introduce it on a voluntary and gradual basis. ELI has already been implemented in several Member States and at European level. A Member State wishing to introduce ELI is required to :

  •  Apply ELI to European and national legislation published in Official Journals and Legal Gazettes or databases and legal information systems operated by Member States
  •  Discuss each year the progress made with the introduction of ELI and metadata for national legislation
  •  Provide pieces of legislation with a unique identifier as well as metadata, which could include the type of legislation, the territorial application and the date of the document
  •  Appoint an ELI coordinator
  •  Share and disseminate information on ELI

The key benefits of ELI

  1. 1The ability to uniquely identify each legislative act in a documented and recognisable manner, from its drafting to publication in an official journal, that is adaptable to different legislative systems across the EU while defining a stable reference system through a common vocabulary of legal concepts (URI templates).
  2. 2A set of standard metadata to provide human- and machine-readable information for online legal resources, their properties and relationships to other resources.
  3. 3Facilitation of search, access and retrieval for both human users and machines utilising standardised identifiers and metadata to associated linked resources
  4. 4

    Provision of a data model

    that can be used to combine information across systems and domains by using standard exchange mechanisms.
  5. 5Easy implementation on top of existing legal databases and information systems by leveraging simple, open, standardised and interoperable formats.
  6. 6The three modules of ELI (identification, metadata, and exchange formats) can be implemented in a gradual step-by-step manner rather than adopting the full functionality immediately, allowing EU Member States and institutions the flexibility to develop their systems at their own pace.

The key benefits of ELI

  European institutions Member States Citizens & Businesses Accession countries, EFTA and others

Each element of ELI will be introduced on a voluntary, gradual and optional basis, concurrent with existing identifiers

yes yes no no

Better integration and more effective information exchange, i.e. enacting directives into national law

yes yes no no

Easy, user-friendly access to legislation and exchange of information across heterogeneous systems

yes yes yes yes

Improved integration and exchange of legal data within the EU

yes yes no yes