The eurlex R package reduces the overhead associated with using SPARQL and REST APIs made available by the EU Publication Office and other EU institutions. Compared to pure web-scraping, the package provides more efficient and transparent access to data on European Union laws and policies.

See the vignette for a basic walkthrough on how to use the package. Check function documentation for most up-to-date overview of features. Example use cases are shown in this paper.

You can use eurlex to create automatically updated overviews of EU decision-making activity, as shown here.


Install from CRAN via install.packages("eurlex").

The development version is available via remotes::install_github("michalovadek/eurlex").


Michal Ovádek (2021) Facilitating access to data on European Union laws, Political Research Exchange, 3:1, DOI: 10.1080/2474736X.2020.1870150

Basic usage

The eurlex package currently envisions the typical use-case to consist of getting bulk information about EU legislation into R as fast as possible. The package contains three core functions to achieve that objective: elx_make_query() to create pre-defined or customized SPARQL queries; elx_run_query() to execute the pre-made or any other manually input query; and elx_fetch_data() to fire GET requests for certain metadata to the REST API.

The function elx_make_query takes as its first argument the type of resource to be retrieved (such as “directive” or “any”) from the semantic database that powers Eur-Lex (and other publications) called Cellar. If you are familiar with SPARQL, you can always specify your own queries and execute them with elx_run_query().

elx_run_query() executes SPARQL queries on a pre-specified endpoint of the EU Publication Office. It outputs a data.frame where each column corresponds to one of the requested variables, while the rows accumulate observations of the resource type satisfying the query criteria. Obviously, the more data is to be returned, the longer the execution time, varying from a few seconds to several hours, depending also on your connection. The first column always contains the unique URI of a “work” (usually legislative act or court judgment) which identifies each resource in Cellar. Several human-readable identifiers are normally associated with each “work” but the most useful one tends to be CELEX, retrieved by default.

# load library

# create query
query <- elx_make_query("directive", include_date_transpos = TRUE)

# execute query
results <- elx_run_query(query)

One of the most useful things about the API is that we obtain a comprehensive list of identifiers that we can subsequently use to obtain more data relating to the document in question. While the results of the SPARQL queries can also be useful for web-scraping, the function elx_fetch_data() makes it possible to fire GET requests to retrieve data on documents with known identifiers (including Cellar URI). The function for example enables downloading the title and the full text of a document in all available languages.


This package nor its author are in any way affiliated with the EU, its institutions, offices or agencies. Please refer to the applicable data reuse policies.

Please consider contributing to the maintenance and development of the package by reporting bugs or suggesting new features.

Latest changes

eurlex 0.4.5

  • breaking change: elx_run_query() now strips URIs (except Eurovoc ones) by default and keeps only the identifier to reduce object size
  • where elx_fetch_data() is used to retrieve texts from an html document, it now uses by default rvest::html_text2() instead of rvest::html_text(). This is slower but more resembling of how the page renders in some cases. New argument html_text = "text2" controls the setting.
  • new feature: elx_make_query(..., include_court_origin = TRUE) retrieves the country of origin of a court case. As per Eur-Lex documentation, this is primarily intended to be the country of the national court referring a preliminary question, but other countries are present in the data as well at the moment. Recommended to interact with court procedure
  • new feature: elx_make_query(..., include_original_language = TRUE) retrieves the authentic language of a document, typically a court case

eurlex 0.4.3

  • all date variables retrieved through elx_make_query(include_... = TRUE) are now properly named
  • new experimental feature: elx_make_query(include_citations_detailed = TRUE) retrieves additional details about the citation where available; the retrieval is currently slow
  • elx_make_query(include_directory = TRUE) now retrieves the directory code instead of URI

eurlex 0.4.2

  • new feature: elx_make_query(include_proposal = TRUE) retrieves the CELEX of a proposal of a requested legal act
  • the returned results from elx_make_query() no longer include previous versions of the same record (new versions typically fix incorrect or missing metadata)

eurlex 0.4.1

  • elx_fetch_data(type = "notice", notice = c("tree","branch", "object")) now mirrors the behaviour of elx_download_xml() but instead of saving to path gives access to XML notice in R
  • retrieve data on the Judge-Rapporteur, Advocate-General, court formation and court-curated scholarship using new include_ options in elx_make_query()
  • fixed bug in elx_download_xml() parameter checking
  • elx_download_xml(notice = "object") now retrieves metadata correctly