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European Union: Preparatory documents

A guide to researching the law of the EU

About preparatory documents

Preparatory documents means all documents corresponding to the various stages of the legislative or budgetary process. They include

  • Commission legislative proposals
  • Council common positions
  • legislative and budgetary resolutions
  • initiatives of the European Parliament
  • opinions of the European Economic and Social Committee and of the Committee of the Regions, etc.

On the website of the European Parliament you'll find an infographic about the ordinary legislative procedure.

Databases and websites

Preparatory documents, together with other documents of the European institutions of possible public interest, may be accessed from the Collection Preparatory acts. Search or navigate through the EU preparatory acts collections

The European Parliament’s Register of Documents has references to documents produced or received by the European Parliament since 3 December 2001, the date on which Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 came into effect. The public has direct access to the vast majority of these documents in their electronic form. Electronic access is free and no justification is necessary.

As a general rule, the register shows for each document:

  • a classification number or reference number
  • the document’s date
  • the name of the author or the department responsible for producing the document
  • related documents (links to other documents pertaining to the same procedure)

Documents classified as directly accessible may be retrieved from the register database and displayed on-screen . Other documents are accessible on request only, in which case the user must fill in a document request form.
Access to documents covered by the exceptions provided for in Articles 4 and 9 of Regulation 1049/2001 may be restricted.

If you are looking for historical documents, or are carrying out thematic and/or in-depth documentary research, please contact the European Parliament's historical archives service.


The Legislative Observatory is the European Parliament's database for monitoring the EU decision-making process. It publishes comprehensive records in English and French, known as "procedure files". Each file has a unique identifying reference number and is constantly updated as the procedure progresses, until it is completed. Daily uploads of the database ensure that any new data can be rapidly added to the procedure files.
The website contains records for all procedures still ongoing - irrespective of when they began - and all procedures that have completed their passage through Parliament since the beginning of the fourth parliamentary term in July 1994.

See for yourself below. For more detailed information about the Legislative Observatory, click on Find out more.

IPEX is a platform for the mutual exchange of information between the national Parliaments and the European Parliament concerning issues related to the European Union, especially in light of the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon. The main part of IPEX is the Documents database which contains draft legislative proposals, consultation and information documents coming from the European Commission, parliamentary documents and information concerning the European Union. The parliamentary documents are uploaded individually by each national Parliament.