New Vistas and Values for Europe: A Workshop Remembered
Linda Tashbook, FCIL Librarian, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
If you wanted to know where to look for scholarly commentary on European Union legislation or what kinds of information could be found in an EU Commission Document, where would you go if not San Antonio?
It was there that a group of forty-seven worldly law librarians convened for a full day prior to this year's AALL Annual Meeting and Conference to study the methods and context of intermediate European Union legal research. Comfortably versed in the basic EU institutions and documents, or at least aware of the EU's official website, the participants had submitted questions in advance for the workshop presenters to answer.
To start the day, there were back-to-back presentations crammed full of practical tips and recommended sites. Ann Sweeney, librarian, webmaster, and information officer from the EU Commission's Delegation to the U.S. http://eurunion.org, conveyed numerous insider tips while reviewing the basic documents published by EU institutions:
And best of all, she demonstrated ECLAS http://europa.eu.int/eclas/ which is the Commission's library catalog. She said to use it when you've heard of something and want to know which Directorate General put it out. This dynamic and thorough catalog links straight to full-text documents and includes articles as well as books.
Stephen Wiles, from Harvard, followed Ann's presentation with a gentle but strategic explanation of EU legislative procedures and documentation emphasizing, especially, the procedure files available from the Legislative Observatory http://www.europarl.eu.int/oeil/index.jsp?language=en and Com docs http://europa.eu.int/documents/comm/index_en.htm. He particularly encouraged using the "motive memos", which are part of Commission proposals, to find the reasons underlying directives and regulations.
And then there was the hot topic. Only weeks after the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe failed to gain approval from two of the EU member states, the FCIL-SIS had Professor Ian Lee, from the University of Toronto, briefing workshop participants on the political significance of the treaty and its legal comparison to existing EU organizing treaties. He showed the many similarities between the language and effects of the current EU organizing treaties compared to the proposed constitution and pointed out that enlargement of the EU is central to the worries and objections of the current EU member states.
Two more presenters followed lunch. Theresa Papademetriou, from the Law Library of Congress, described the authority and structure of the European Court of Justice and summarized the Court's foundational cases about member state obligations, sovereignty of member states, the relationship between Community law and nationals laws, external relations, human rights, and access to the Court's records. Then, the final lecture of the day was presented by neither a lawyer nor a librarian; Dr. Maria Green Cowles, a public policy analyst, spoke with bright enthusiasm about the issues surrounding globalization and economic unity within Europe, police and judicial cooperation, and foreign policy.
After all was said, but before we were done, the librarian speakers joined as panelists to answer the pre-submitted questions, and offering on the spot to be stumped by queries that had formed throughout the workshop day. And then, in the great European tradition, William S. Hein Company hosted an elegant wine and cheese reception. And, at last, we all rode back into downtown San Antonio with our thoughts, words, and palates all tingling with the spirit of the Continent.