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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 19 December 2012

Commission adopts roadmap for reform of agencies

The Commission has today adopted a roadmap that will help to deliver improved efficiency and accountability, greater coherence and transparency, and more balanced governance to the EU's decentralised agencies. The document puts flesh on the bones of the 'Common Approach' – the first ever political agreement on EU agencies, reached by the Commission, Council and European Parliament in July 2012 after three years of analysis and negotiations.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: "The greater efficiencies this roadmap will deliver are vital when rationalisation efforts are top of the political agenda. But it is not just about saving money. The document sets out, in a very clear way, a whole series of measures that will improve the performance, governance and transparency of our agencies. This will help agencies to deliver EU policies even better than they do today."

The roadmap serves as an inventory of all the initiatives to be taken by the Commission, as well as by agencies themselves, the Council, Member States and European Parliament, to translate the Common Approach into action. In addition, it shows where co-operation with agencies is necessary and useful, and where agencies have already started implementing the Common Approach.

For actions where the Commission is responsible, an ambitious deadline is set for the end of 2014. However, the roadmap highlights several actions which the Commission considers a priority, and it will already implement these in 2013 (where relevant in co-operation with the agencies or other institutions). They include:

  • preventing and managing conflicts of interest in the agencies, for members of the Management Board and Directors, experts in scientific committees, and members of Boards of Appeal;

  • including key performance indicators in agencies' annual work programmes and for agencies' Executive Directors;

  • developing standard provisions to be included in agencies' host state agreements, based on existing best practice;

  • developing guidelines with agencies on applying activity-based budgeting and activity-based management;

  • elaborating guidelines for regular evaluations.

A number of provisions in the Common Approach will also require changes to agencies' basic acts. So the Commission will ensure that future proposals to revise those acts are in line with the Common Approach. An annex to the road map highlights where this will be necessary. In this framework, and in view of enhancing agencies' efficiency and accountability, one of the objectives foreseen in the Common Approach is to seek synergies, through shared services or the merging of agencies where they have overlapping tasks or where they would be more efficient if inserted in a bigger structure.


The Common Approach represents the first political agreement on EU decentralised agencies of its kind. Although legally non-binding, it will serve as a political blueprint guiding future horizontal initiatives and reforms of individual EU agencies. The Commission has the main responsibility for the implementation of this agreement.

It is the result of a joint exercise of the three main EU institutions. In March 2009, following a Commission Communication entitled “European agencies: the way forward”, the three institutions launched an interinstitutional working group (IIWG) chaired by the Commission, to discuss the governance and functioning of EU agencies. The IIWG addressed a number of key issues, including the role and position of the agencies in the EU's institutional landscape, the creation, structure and operation of these agencies, together with funding, budgetary, supervision and management issues.

The common approach concerns 32 decentralised agencies, spread across the Member States, operating in a number of policy areas and performing a wide range of tasks. Three decentralised agencies operating in the field of Foreign and Security Policy are not covered by the agreement, nor are the six executive agencies and the joint undertakings.

Agencies offer a tangible presence of the EU in the Member States. Their activities are varied – some deliver support to the Union's decision-making process by pooling available expertise, some adopt individual decisions applying agreed EU standards, and others aid the implementation of Community policies. However, the ad hoc establishment of agencies over the years has not been accompanied by an overall vision of their position in the Union. The Common Approach, as translated into action by the roadmap adopted today, should help to change that.

The EU's decentralised agencies employ more than 7,000 people and received €750 million from the EU budget in 2012.


Roadmap on the follow-up to the Common Approach on EU decentralised agencies

Contacts :

Antonio Gravili (+32 2 295 43 17)

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