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Introducing the Congressional Research Service (CRS)

9 June 2023

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a federal agency located in the United States Library of Congress. The CRS provides authoritative, nonpartisan research and analysis to members of U.S. Congress to assist in policymaking.

The CRS developed out of a special reference unit established in the Library of Congress in 1914. The original role of the unit was to provide Congress with facts and publications to inform their work. These were often indexes or collections of documents from other government agencies as well as research published by unaffiliated organisations and independent scholars.

ESO curates CRS reports related to the European Union and European affairs. There are three relevant series which differ primarily in the level of detail:

  • In Focus: These are short documents (approximately 3 pages) offering a brief overview or background of a topic.
  • Insights: These slightly longer documents highlight the main points of a topic under several headings and often include bullet point lists and a map or other supporting image.
  • Reports: CRS Reports provide in-depth analysis of a topic, beginning with an overview before exploring aspects more thoroughly. They are usually between 20 and 80 pages in length.

Because timeliness is a key feature of CRS reports, they are regularly updated with the most current information. They provide a valuable resource to anyone interested in European issues from an American perspective, and in American-European relations.