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Executive agencies of the EU

This Regulation lays down the statute of the executive agencies which have been charged with managing Community programmes. In particular, it governs certain essential aspects concerning their structure, tasks, operation, budget system, staff, supervision and responsibility.


Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002, laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes.


The implementation of Community programmes is the responsibility of the Commission. In order to concentrate on its institutional tasks, the Commission decided to delegate responsibility for the implementation of some Community programmes to third-party bodies known as "executive agencies". The purpose of this Regulation is to lay down the statute for these agencies. As the institution responsible for the implementation of Community programmes, the Commission must be able to closely circumscribe the activities of these agencies.

The Commission may thus decide whether to establish an executive agency, extend its period of operation or wind it up on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis. The cost-benefit analysis takes account of several factors, including:

  • identification of the tasks justifying outsourcing;
  • an assessment of benefits and costs, including human resources;
  • efficiency and flexibility in implementation;
  • simplification of the procedures used;
  • proximity of the activities to the final beneficiaries.

If the Commission finds that an agency is no longer necessary or that it no longer complies with the principles of sound financial management, it will decide to wind that agency up.

When adopting a Community programme, the Commission must inform the budgetary authority of any plan to set up an executive agency.

Legal status

Executive agencies are Community bodies with a public service role. They have legal personality.


The role of executive agencies is to implement one or more Community programmes. They may be responsible for the following main tasks:

  • managing and supervising all the phases of projects;
  • adopting budget implementation measures and awarding contracts and grants;
  • gathering, analysing and passing on to the Commission all the information needed to implement the programmes.

They may not perform tasks entailing political choices.

In the instrument of delegation, the Commission identifies the terms, criteria, parameters and procedures with which executive agencies must comply.

Internal structure

Executive agencies are managed by a steering committee and a director.

The steering committee is made up of five members appointed by the Commission for two years (renewable). It draws up the annual work programme, adopts the operating budget and the annual activity report and implements measures to combat fraud and irregularities.

The director is appointed by the Commission for four years (renewable) and is an official of the European Communities. He or she is responsible for:

  • representing, supervising and managing the executive agency, including human resource management;
  • preparing the work of the steering committee;
  • implementing the agency's work programme;
  • financial implementation of Community programmes and the executive agency's operating budget;
  • annual planning of the executive agency's operating budget.
  • preparing the agency's reports, particularly the annual activity report.

Their staff consists of Community officials seconded as temporary staff members and contract staff recruited by the agency.

Financial provisions

Executive agencies' operating budgets take the form of a subsidy from the general budget of the European Union, the value of which is set by the Commission. The implementation of this budget is subject to the provisions of a standard financial regulation adopted by the Commission (see "Related Acts").

Each year, the director submits the draft income and expenditure accounts for the previous year to the steering committee, which forwards them to the Commission's accounting officer and the Court of Auditors. Lastly, the European Parliament, acting on a recommendation from the Council, agrees to the implementation of the agency's operating budget.


Executive agencies are supervised by:

  • the Commission, in particular its internal auditor;
  • the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF);
  • the Court of Auditors.

Every three years, an external evaluation report is submitted to each executive agency's steering committee, the European Parliament, the Council and the Court of Auditors. These reports should enable the executive agency to improve its activities and allow the Commission to wind the agency up in the event that its role is no longer required.

Any act of an executive agency which injures a third party may be challenged by means of an administrative appeal. The Commission has two months to rule on any such appeal.


The contractual, non-contractual or personal liability of executive agencies may be enforced in accordance with the conditions applicable to each individual situation.

Access to documents

The public can access executive agencies' documents subject to certain conditions. Staff of executive agencies are required not to disclose information covered by professional secrecy.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 [consultation procedure CNS/2000/0337]26.1.2003-OJ L 11 of 16.1.2003

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Last updated: 02.04.2007
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