Access to Europe's law and politics

Laws and politics vary significantly from one country to another. Europe's pursuit of integration means administrations and individuals will need to know more about these variations. This could lead to greater public accountability and more enlightened citizens - the long-term goal of every civil society.

The project ELVIL is encouraging a European public sphere based on constitutional principles, citizenship rights and the accountability of public representatives. To that end it has built a World Wide Web based entry point to European law and politics. Its users can easily access primary and secondary sources on law and politics throughout the continent. A special thesaurus also offers multilingual support.

A significant feature is the European Civic Network centre. A co-operative initiative led by participating academic institutions, ECN operates computers and database gateways. It also supplies software support packages and related partner and membership programmes, promoting wider usage of the system. Further target groups include database providers, scholars and civil society organisations. The prototype's modular structure will facilitate database updating plus the addition of new educational modules and user communities.

Open standards and accountability underpin the system. Its search interface uses artificial intelligence techniques, while special gateways allow concurrent and parallel searching in multiple databases, web-indexes and web-servers. Currently available databases include those of the Swedish and UK parliaments, as well as the European Parliament's Epoque.

The ELVIL stand demonstrates the Internet application, spotlighting the Encyclopaedia on law and politics in Europe, the index for News & Research on law and politics in Europe, and the civil society support module for the European Civic Network.

Contact Ingrid CANTWELL, Stockholm University Library
tel +46 8 16 27 86
fax +46 8 15 77 76
email ingrid.cantwell@sub.su.se
website elvil.sub.su.se

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