ELI – European Legislation Identifier

The concept of the identifier is described in the Council conclusions inviting the introduction of the European Legislation Identifier (ELI) (2012/C 325/02) and the Council conclusions on the European Legislation Identifier (2017/C 441/05). The concept involves the creation of a common system for the identification of legislation and its metadata, which will complement Member States’ legal information systems. It also introduces a new standard of access to legal information, however states implementing ELI will continue to operate their Official Journals and Legal Gazettes as they see fit.

ELI introduction aims at facilitating the exchange of legal information between the Member States and enhancing interoperability between information systems of Member States and European institutions, thus ensuring better accessibility of documents. ELI is used to create a more open, direct and transparent system of access to legislation for citizens, businesses and administration at EU level and beyond. ELI is subject to voluntary, gradual and optional introduction.

A website indicated by ELI includes not only visual, human-readable information but also metadata describing a given legislative act. Both the method of encoding metadata in the website structure and the meaning of basic metadata (such as the title or the date of publication) are the same in all Member States. These elements are based on international standards for defining bibliographic information (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), Resource Description and Access (RDA), Dublin core, Simple Knowledge Organisation System (SKOS), Web Ontology Language (OWL)). Therefore, well-known tools for searching and indexing information may be used easily. Such metadata are used in particular by search engines (e.g. Google) to make search more relevant than full-text search.

The implementation of ELI involves 3 pillars:

  1. creating a unique identifier for the legislation, which is readable by both humans and computers, and which is compatible with existing technological standards (‘ELI pillar 1’);
  2. creating a set of metadata elements to describe legislation in compliance with a reference ontology (‘ELI pillar 2’);
  3. ensuring a greater and faster exchange of data: when these metadata are embedded in the respective webpages of the Official Journals and Legal Gazettes or legal information systems, information can be exchanged automatically and efficiently, thanks to the benefits from the emerging architecture of the semantic web, which enables information to be directly processed by computers and humans alike (‘ELI pillar 3’).