122brussels

PrintEmail

FCIL Newsletter/February 1998
v.12, no. 2


Report on European Union Training Seminar in Brussels
Jeanne Rehberg, NYU Law Library

Five law librarians were among the American contingent at the latest training seminar for librarians of European Documentation Centres conducted by the European Commission in Brussels, December 1-3, 1997. In U.S. terminology, EDCs are European Union depositories. The U.S. was not the only non-member state represented. Librarians from Russia, Hungary, Poland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Turkey attended. Clearly the European Commission is supporting existing and future EDCs in these European countries with a view to the possible enlargement of the citizenship of Europe.

The following is a summary of information from the seminar that should be of interest to depositories and other law libraries (with the disclaimer that all promises and future projections are beyond the control of this author).

1. Agenda 2000 refers to the Commission's plan for enlargement of the membership and the 1,300 pages of assessment of the preparedness for membership of the ten applicant countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the necessary reform of the structural funds. The individual country reports were issued as COM documents and are being reissued as Supplements to the Bulletin of the European Union. The publishing arm and information specialists of the EC are beginning to confront a major challenge related to enlargement--how to accommodate new official languages.

2. Until the Amsterdam Treaty is ratified, the Maastricht Treaty on European Union still controls. The text of the Amsterdam Treaty and a consolidated edition of the EC and EU treaties reflecting changes made by the Amsterdam Treaty have been issued to depositories and are also available on the EUROPA web site.

3. Reform of the decision-making process to accommodate enlargement is a critical issue. Without this reform, enlargement cannot take place. For example, changes in the number of members of Parliament without appropriate changes in the voting process could paralyze the process. It is clear that other intergovernmental conferences will be necessary.

4. Political events to watch in the lead-up to the Monetary Union and possible enlargement:

  • December 1997: European Council meeting in Luxembourg to decide how many Central and Eastern European states will be involved when official enlargement negotiations begin. In June 1997 the Commission settled on a list of five of the ten applicants (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Estonia), but negotiations could begin with all ten and then focus on the five.
  • March 31, 1998: Official opening of negotiations with states applying for membership.
  • May 1998: Summit of Council to determine how many member states qualify for entry into the single currency Monetary Union. Review will focus not only on technical progress but on the considerable efforts of states such as Spain and Italy.
  • Late 1998: Ratification of Amsterdam Treaty.
  • Beginning January 1, 1999: European Monetary Union in effect. The initial group of qualified member states will switch their banking and public debt to the Euro, with national currencies still in circulation.
  • Towards 2000: An intergovernmental conference to treat institutional and decision-making reforms before the earliest entry of new member states in 2002.
  • 2002: Most likely date for earliest entry of new member state(s). Euro goes into circulation.

5. The Economic and Social Committee (CES) is properly referred to as an EC "organ" or "body" and not an "institution" because it is consultative and not political. It is "economic and social" not because it reviews only those issues but because it represents economic and social groups and associations.

6. EUROPA web site: Attention will be focused upon the "bells and whistles" to look for ways to make the site function faster and more efficiently. The webmasters will also look at more structured search options, having listened to feedback that the site is not friendly to scholarly researchers who want more full-text and field searching options. Press releases of the Parliament should be available in the RAPID database by February, 1998. The Parliament (EPOQUE) and Court of Justice (CURIA) sites will each continue as separate sites. Opinions of the Advocates General will be part of CURIA. The APC database tracks the progress of legislative proposals. Under "Policies" on EUROPA, we will begin to see more full texts and hot links.

7. News from EUROP, the Office for Official Publications: In 1998, EUROP will debut EU-Law Service, a free web service in all eleven languages. In Phase I, EU Law will provide the full text in PDF of new issues of the OJ/L and C, including tables and graphics, but only the issues for the last 20 days. In Phase 2 (1998), the Directory of Community Legislation in Force will be added. In Phase 3 (late 1998?), the COM docs, treaties, Consolidated texts of legislation, and "other legal texts" will be added. Searching will probably be simple at first, for example, a clickable calendar of OJ issues. EUDOR will likely remain the archive for COM documents and the best source for printing on demand.

8. As for CELEX, textual coverage of Parliamentary questions will be added, Sector 1 will be restructured to follow the Amsterdam Treaty, and EUROVOC indexing will be extended to all publications except those of the Court of Justice. In addition, CELEX on the web will be in all eleven languages, search terms will show as highlighted text, two languages versions will be viewable at once, and a search history, expert search modes and profiling, and links to EUDOR documents will be available. It is not clear whether after the debut of EU-Law Service in 1998 there could be charges for CELEX to depositories.

9. As of January, 1998, coverage of the OJ in EUDOR will extend back to January, 1990. SGML, and later PDF, are coming. COMs can be searched by COM number and it will be possible to order a subdocument (e.g., an annex), a whole document, and documents in multiple languages.

10. In 1998, a CD-ROM of the OJ/L and C will be available. It will be quarterly and cumulative, in single language editions. Depositories may receive the CD for free only if they give up their current format.

11. The EUROP representative explained that there are two series of consolidated texts of legislation. First, EUROP itself is doing "cut and paste" consolidations to mechanically insert amendments into the legal texts. These consolidations are available on EUDOR (i.e., not free), have no legal value and are listed in a cumulative monthly catalogue. The CONSLEG referred to in CELEX are these texts in EUDOR. Second, the Secretary-General of the Commission is publishing the yellow pamphlets of Consolidated texts that depository libraries have been receiving. These also have no legal value, but they are reportedly checked for "legal and linguistic coherence." At the back of each yellow pamphlet there is an index of all the consolidated texts listed according to EC sector. The index to the EUROP consolidated texts has nothing at all to do with the yellow consolidated texts published by the Secretary-General. More information is available on EUROPA at europa.eu.int/comm/sg/consolid/en/accueil.htm.

12. A request is pending to establish an e-mail option for depositories to make claims to the distribution facility.

13. Neville Keery, Head of DG X/A/4, the Unit for Libraries and EDCs, is proposing the establishment of EUROLIB, a website for depositories. It is possible that ECLAS, the online catalog of the central library of the European Commission, could be available through the proposed EUROLIB site. (Electronic access to ECLAS is not now available outside of EC institutions, except through the paid Eurobases, to which depositories have access with their CAA password. A CD-ROM of ECLAS is also being discussed, and it was reported that Ellis, the publisher of EUROCAT, is considering integrating ECLAS into one of its products.) Participants assured Mr. Keery that American libraries would use ECLAS as a cataloging and verification tool and would respect the fact that EC libraries cannot respond to interlibrary loan requests. The proposed EUROLIB might also provide access to archives of material now on EUROPA (such as the intergovernmental conference materials) and some information related to national implementing legislation.

14. In 1998, DG X, along with DG XIII, expects to issue a green paper on the role of libraries in the Information Society.

15. The decisions of the Court of Justice, which are announced at 9 a.m. and on the Internet by noon, are deleted from the Internet after one year, but stay permanently in CELEX. The 1994-95 annual report of the Court has been published, but so far 1996 is available in French only. Subsequent volumes of the Digest of Case-Law Relating to the European Communities exists but not yet in published form. The consolidated version of Series A (to replace the looseleafs) for 1977-90 is still being prepared in German, English, Danish, Italian, and Dutch; only the French is complete.

16. The Commission library staff is now working with EUROP on a project to make cataloging records available at the time of publication of materials, but realization is at least two to three years off.

17. Ian Thomson of the University of Wales, Cardiff, announced that the electronic version of European Access Plus, should appear sometime in 1998. On the future of depositories and the nature of the documents that they will receive, Ian Thomson raised several issues: What will shrinking funds and increasing electronic options mean for the quantity and format of documents sent to depositories? Are depositories entitled to all databases free of charge, and should access be available directly to users or only through librarian-mediated searches? What about archives? Can and should EUROP capture the publications of new EU institutions and bodies for distribution to depositories? Should depositories perhaps receive a combination of fewer official materials along with financial support for purchasing secondary sources not published by the EU? Should there be an option to receive only those publications that serve the clientele of the individual depositories? One answer to these questions may be: "Be careful for what you ask (e.g., fewer unwanted free documents) lest you get it." The management of the depository program within the Commission several times repeated the basic principle that depositories should have "comprehensive collections, well managed."


FORWARD to the next article: "People in the Profession"
BACK to the Table of Contents