1. What types of file are stored in Central Archives?
Most of our files relate to meetings of the Council in its different configurations at the level of leaders or ministers with responsibility for the areas concerned, meetings of Coreper and other committees and meetings of working parties, and to the preparation of directives, decisions and regulations.
2. What is the "30-Year Rule"?
30 years is the period laid down in Council Regulation (EEC, Euratom) No 354/83 concerning the opening to the public of the historical archives of the EEC and Euratom. That period is in line with standard practice in Member States.
There are exceptions for classified documents (restreint, confidentiel, secret, très secret), which cannot be released to the public until they have been declassified, and for documents containing sensitive information (personal data, commercial interests, etc), which cannot be consulted until the conditions giving rise to the exception from release cease to apply (Articles 2 and 3 of Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1700/2003).
3. Can I have access to documents or files less than 30 years old?
Access to documents less than 30 years old is governed by Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents. Requests should be sent to email@example.com or by completing the online form.
4. What archives can I find at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence?
The EUI signed a contract with the European institutions in 1984. Once a year, archives (on paper with a copy on microfiche) processed by us are sent to the Institute for conservation and to be made accessible to the public.
The EUI's archive collections therefore include the historical archives, open to the public, of the Council, the Parliament, the European Commission and other institutions, which have been transferred to Florence for permanent conservation. The EUI also stores private archives and archives of other organisations.
5. How can I have access to the consulting room?
You should contact the Central Archives department by email beforehand to arrange a date for your visit. On the day of your visit, you will have to show a valid identity card and pass through a metal detector.
The consulting room is open from 9.00 to 16.30 Monday to Friday.
6. Why do I have to make an appointment before my visit?
We ask you to contact us beforehand and to confirm the dates of your visit for reasons of internal organisation. If you already know the references for the files that you wish to consult, tell us in advance for faster service. If you do not have any file references or if this is your first visit, tell us about your project so that we can give you the best possible assistance.
7. Can I find documents from other institutions or third parties in your department?
Given the nature of the Council's activities, documents from other institutions (generally the Commission, the Parliament or the EESC) or from third parties (governments of Member States of third countries) are frequently to be found in our files. These documents are also covered by current legislation on access to documents and the opening of archives to the public.
8. Are the archives subject to copyright? What intellectual property rights attach to descriptions? How do I refer to a document?
In general, all Council documents released to the public can be freely used provided that reference is made to the source. In case of doubt, contact us.
Descriptions are owned by the General Secretariat of the Council but can be freely used provided that reference is made to the source.
We suggest that your refer to the collection (for example CM2 or CM3), the sub-collection (for example 1974 or NEGO1) and to the file (for example CM2 1974 / 312 or CM3 NEGO1 / 57). Documents produced by the Council and contained in the files generally have a number (for example R/2589/1974). You can use this reference for greater precision. The number appears on the first page of the document in the top right hand corner and at the bottom of all the pages of the document.
9. Are all documents or files more than 30 years old accessible?
This is the general rule and we make every effort to accommodate your request.
For the sake of consistency in the processing of files, we apply the 30-year period from the date on which a file is closed (not the date on which a document is produced). For example: a document from 1975 produced in connection with a directive adopted in 1981 is processed as part of the 1981 inventory and opened in 2011.
Unfortunately, there is a backlog of files for opening and descriptions may not always be as precise as in the case of processed files, or we may need longer to identify the documents matching your request. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
10. Are all files available online?
The digitisation project started at the beginning of 2010. The first digitised files will be those in CM1, followed by those in CM2. As images are received, checked for quality and approved, they will be made available online. Go to the Latest news page for information on the project's progress.
The character recognition rate for "plain text" searches is 90 %, a priori. However, in the case of documents in poor condition, that rate may not always be reached. Please bear this in mind when analysing your search results.
You can also send us a message if you would like more information about the technical options or give us feedback on the use of our documents on-line.