Presentation at the Strasbourg de-briefing of the College's meeting at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg.

The event:

The Commission considers that the time has come to re-launch a debate on the role of agencies and their place in the governance of the EU. The Commission believes that a consistent political handling of the approach to agencies would promote the transparency and effectiveness of an important part of the EU's institutional machinery.

 The Commission will set out its thinking on the need for a common vision about the role and functions of regulatory agencies and will outline the next steps it believes the Union should take in this debate.


In recent years, the use of agencies to implement key tasks has become an established part of how the European Union does its business. They have become part of the institutional landscape of the Union. Most Member States have taken the same path of using agencies to bring a different approach to precisely-defined tasks.

There are currently 29 regulatory agencies (with proposals being considered for 2 others) Examples include the European Medicines Agency and FRONTEX and 6 executive agencies. (e.g.the Executive Agency for the Public Health programme the Executive Agency for competitiveness and Innovation.

There are two broad types of agency, with different characteristics and raising different issues. "Regulatory" or "traditional" agencies have a variety of specific roles, set down in their own legal basis on a case-by-case basis. Executive agencies have been set up under a Council regulation adopted in 2002 with the much more narrowly defined task of helping to manage spending programmes.

These two types of agencies are very different. They have a different role, in terms of the tasks they are given, their independence and their governance. The fact that regulatory agencies are spread around the EU, whilst executive agencies are housed in Brussels or Luxembourg, is just the most obvious symbol of their very different relationship with the Commission. Not surprisingly, therefore, the two types of agencies give rise to different issues and need to be tackled differently.

The communication will concentrate on regulatory agencies. Executive agencies have a much clearer place in the Union's institutional framework, governed by a single legal base, and the responsibility of the Commission is clear. It is the regulatory agencies where the need for clarification and a common approach is most clear.

The contact: Mark Gray +32 2 29 88644

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