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Summaries of EU Legislation

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The EU's executive agencies

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The EU's executive agencies


Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 - EU executive agencies



It lays down the statute of the executive agencies which have been charged with managing EU programmes. In particular, it governs certain essential aspects concerning their




budget system,


supervision and



The European Commission has delegated responsibility for the implementation of some EU programmes to third-party bodies known as ‘executive agencies’ . There are 6 executive agencies:

Setting up an executive agency

The Commission decides 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.


Executive agencies may be responsible for:

managing 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 that may involve making political choices.

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


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

The steering committee is made up of 5 members appointed by the Commission for 2 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 4 years (renewable) and is an EU civil servant.

Their staff consists of EU civil servants temporarily re-assigned, as well as contract staff recruited by the agency.


Executive agencies are supervised by:

the Commission, in particular its internal auditor;

the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF);

An external evaluation report is drawn up by the Commission every 3 years and submitted to each executive agency's steering committee, the European Parliament, the Council and the European Court of Auditors.


Agencies and other EU bodies


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 (OJ L 11, 16.1.2003, pp. 1–8)

last update 25.11.2015