Volume 18 (2012) / Issue 1
Agencies have become a ubiquitous part of the administrative structure of the EU. They fulfil diverse and important roles in implementing EU policies. As diverse as the tasks of EU agencies are their forms of organization. Few have been established by the Treaties themselves; most have been created on the basis of secondary legal acts. Agency design has, thus, become an important part of EU legislative activity. The future of agencies is, however, very much subject to debate. This article does not analyse agencies in the EU context from an abstract point of view. Instead, it studies possible structural and procedural arrangements for agencies on the basis of a real-life case study, the European Research Council (ERC), chosen from the area of the EU's research policy. The ERC displays not only a rather unusual structure with creative institutional design. It also stands as an example for many controversies about independence and accountability of agencies in the EU. This short article, after introducing the ERC and before looking at the various options for agency design in the EU in general terms, looks at the options for changing the ERC's legal status and architecture. This is used as a canvas to outline some thoughts on the role and independence of agencies in the EU.
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