RSS
Alphabetical index
This page is available in 4 languages

Regulatory agencies

The European regulatory agencies lack a common framework for governance, and clarity about their role and accountability. With this Communication, the Commission is aiming to re-launch an inter-institutional discussion on the role and place of regulatory agencies in the governance of the EU. This discussion should then result in a common vision on the functions of the regulatory agencies.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 11 March 2008: European Agencies – The way forward {SEC(2008) 323} [COM(2008) 135 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The present Communication concerns only regulatory agencies, and not the executive agencies. It addresses the need for a common approach to the place of these agencies in European governance and the lack of clarity over their role and accountability. Currently, the Commission is responsible for proposing the establishment of agencies on a case-by-case basis, with the European Parliament and/or the Council of Ministers taking the final decision. A common view of the regulatory agencies shared by the EU institutions would promote transparency and improve working methods. This is particularly important as the agencies play an integral though highly varied part in a wide range of policy issues.

The regulatory agencies can be categorised roughly on the basis of their functions:

  • adoption of individual decisions;
  • technical or scientific advice to the Commission and the Member States;
  • responsibility for operational activities;
  • information and networking services;
  • services to other agencies and institutions.

The specific roles of each agency are set out in its own founding legal act. These agencies are independent bodies, usually governed by a Management Board. The Management Board has responsibility for overseeing the performance of the agency and for nominating the Director, who in turn is in charge of the agency’s operational aspects. Most of the agencies are funded by the EU budget, and hence the European Parliament has responsibility for their budgetary discharge. In addition, the general Financial Regulation, along with the Framework Financial Regulation, provides common rules for the agencies’ financial governance. What is lacking, however, is a general set of rules for the creation and operation of these agencies. And more importantly, there is a lack of clear rules for the accountability of their actions. Furthermore, the role and influence of the other institutions is questionable, for example with regard to the nomination and appointment of Directors and Management Boards. Consequently, with the present Communication, the Commission aims to re-launch a debate on the governance of the regulatory agencies.

A common framework

A common approach to the governance of regulatory agencies should be standardised enough to take into account the differences between the agencies. At the same time, the basic principles of accountability and sound financial management should also be respected. Therefore, the common approach should specify the following aspects of the regulatory agencies:

  • tasks;
  • structure and working methods;
  • accountability and relations with the other institutions;
  • regulatory framework;
  • establishment and termination;
  • communication strategy.

To achieve consistency, the common approach may necessitate amending the founding legal act of an existing agency.

Next steps

The Commission calls for the creation of an inter-institutional working group to form a political assessment of the regulatory agencies. This could be followed-up with an instrument, legally binding or otherwise, that would provide form and transparency to the results of the assessment. The objective is to achieve a common political understanding about the agencies.

Simultaneously, the Commission will launch an evaluation of the existing regulatory agencies, with the results to be communicated by 2009-10. In the meantime, no new agencies will be proposed so that the evaluation may be carried out in a constant setting. The Commission will also launch a review of its own internal systems with regard to its relations to agencies and its methodology for conducting impact assessment of the regulatory agencies.

RELATED ACTS

Draft Interinsitutional Agreement of 25 February 2005 on the operating framework for the European regulatory agencies [COM(2005) 59 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council of 20 December 1999: Participation of candidate countries in Community programmes, agencies and committees [COM(1999) 710 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 11.07.2008
Legal notice | About this site | Search | Contact | Top