Saturday, December 17, 2005

EU Treaty Links at EUR-Lex and EULegal.Org Link Updates

The URLs of websites of the European Union and its institutions are in a constant state of flux, which has required us to substantially update our European Union links at EULegal.Org, our website on "European Law, Policy and Institutions." These links should now all be operational, but please inform us in the future if you find a dead link at the EULegal.Org website.

We might also note that the EUR-Lex link page for EU treaties is currently unsatisfactory in our view because some references are not to the commonly used names for the treaties. These commonly used names usually include the place at which a treaty was signed, e.g. Maastricht Treaty. The EUR-Lex links give official names of treaties only, i.e. rather than Maastricht Treaty they use Treaty on European Union, a linking practice which makes finding and use of the treaties difficult for anyone not thoroughly familiar with the subject matter, especially since the press generally uses "Maastricht Treaty".

Hence, in addition to linking to the EU treaty link page, we also link at EULegal.Org to the MCE European NAvigator ENA, which lists treaty links both by their official names as well as their place of signing. Hence, ENA lists "Treaty on European Union (Maastricht, 7 February 1992)" whereas EUR-Lex has only "Treaty on European Union (consolidated text) Official Journal C 325 of 24 December 2002".

Moreover, the Official Journal date above applies to the consolidated version of the treaty, which has no force of law because no one has signed these consolidations as treaties. It is the original - unconsolidated and signed - treaty per se, which is the actual "legislation in force". The Official Journal date in the link to the consolidated version of the treaty could thus be misleading to users, since the original Maastricht Treaty was already published earlier in the Official Journal on July 29, 1992, a fact which one discovers at the EU site only by clicking further to the website page on "Founding Treaties". We think it would be advisable for the EU to list all of these treaties on one page and with complete identifying information for each treaty to avoid this kind of potential confusion. The current way of linking presumes knowledge of the treaties on the part of the user, but this knowledge may often be lacking.

Moreover, the operative dates for treaties are not the dates at which they appear in the Official Journal but rather the dates on which they were signed and on which they took effect. When one clicks to a particular treaty in ENA, these dates are then appropriately given at the bottom of the page, for example, in the instant case:

The Treaty on European Union is signed on 7 February 1992 in Maastricht and enters into force on 1 November 1993.
"Treaty on European Union", dans Official Journal of the European Communities (OJEC). 29.07.1992, n° C 191, p. 1."

To access the links to these European treaties at ENA, click on "European Union" in the left menu column of the ENA website home page. A list of the treaties then appears under "Synopsis".

Crossposted to LawPundit.

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