ELI, a European project

What’s ELI?

The European Legislation Identifier is an initiative jointly adopted by the Member States and the institutions of the EU in 2012, allowing online access to the legislation in a normalised format, so it can be found, exchanged and reused beyond borders.

The European space of freedom, security and justice requires the knowledge of European law, but also mutual knowledge of the legal systems of the other Member States. Although there is much legal information available on the Internet, the accessibility and interoperability are limited by the differences in the national legal systems as well as by the existing differences in the technical systems used to store and present the legislation in the national websites.

In this context, the European Legislation Identifier (ELI), has the purpose to facilitate the access, exchange and interconnection of the information published in the European, national and global information systems, in order to enable the setting of a genuine network of legal information, available as open data and reusable.

The ELI standard includes technical specifications about:

  • Web identifiers (URI) for legal information (Pillar 1)
  • Metadata specifying the way to describe the legal information (Pillar 2)
  • A specific language to exchange legislation in mechanical reading formats (Pillar 3)
  • a protocol to harvest and synchronize ELI metadata (pilar 4)

Since 2012, the ELI system has been adopted in several European countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom) and by the Publications Office of the European Union, in different levels (ELI implementation overview)

The success of the system has motivated that, on November 6 th, 2017, the Council has adopted new Conclusions related to the ELI, inviting again the Member States and the candidate countries, the members of the Lugano Convention and other States to adopt the identifier voluntarily and gradually.

ELI has the following advantages:

  • Better-quality, more reliable legislation data:

    ELI helps to improve the quality and reliability of legal information online through the use of persistent identifiers and structured metadata.

  • Greater interoperability:

    ELI encourages interoperability among information systems by structuring legislation in a standardised way, while taking into account the specific features of different legal systems.

  • Better access to legislation:

    Thanks to search engine optimisation, ELI makes it easier to locate legal data, which can thus be more widely used.

  • It promotes the development of new services

    Making legislation available in a structured way helps to develop value-added services.

  • Cost savings

    ELI makes information flows more effectively and shortens the time taken to publish legislation.

  • It promotes transparency

    By improving access to legal information, ELI makes it easier to follow up work done by governments, and promotes greater accountability.