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Professor Renaud Dehousse and Dr. Ellen Vos
This comparative project examines the eleven new European agencies which have been part of the EU's institutional structure since October 1993. Operating in areas such as drugs and drug addiction, environment, health and safety at work, training, trade marks, pharmaceuticals and racism, these agencies either provide information or, as in the case of the trademark and plant variety agencies, implement a regulatory system. None of these agencies is a fully-fledged regulatory body. They are better defined as "information agencies", as their main task is to provide information to policy makers. In 1994, a network was formed under the umbrella of the RSC to bring together academics (from the EUI and elsewhere) interested in institutional reform, deregulation and/or networking with practitioners-i.e., the Directors of the agencies and representatives of the main institutions of the EU dealing with these agencies. This discussion forum has held two conferences and plans to hold a third conference in the Spring of 1999.
The 1996 Conference focused on the ideas behind the creation of the agencies, as well as their current structures and functions. The 1997 Conference addressed the topic of how to strike a balance between the EU agencies' need to be autonomous, efficient and credible, on the one hand, and accountable on the other.
The present focus is on networking and the practical operation of the agencies. To this end, both theoretical and empirical perspectives are combined. Academic contributions will concentrate on network theories, whilst empirical research will focus on the operation of the agencies, in relation to their decision-making process, transparency, accessibility, and contacts with other institutions or individuals.
Examination of the EU agencies remains important in the ongoing discussions on the reform of both the EU's institutional setting and the administrative systems of the Member States. Furthermore, faced with the globalization of regulatory policies, the EU agency could serve as a model at the international level where new forms of co-operation among nations are being developed.
The RSC not only conducts research on the EU agencies; it has already begun to collaborate with them. In mid-December 1996, for example, a conference on Drug Research Related Initiatives in the EU was jointly organized with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Lisbon) and the European Commission's Secretariat General.
Kreher, A. (ed.), The New Agencies, EUI Working Paper RSC 96/49, European University Institute, Florence, 1996.
Kreher, A. (ed.), The EC Agencies between Community Institutions and Constituents: Autonomy, Control and Accountability, Conference Report, EUI RSC, Florence, 1998.
Special Issue on European Agencies, edited by Alexander Kreher and Yves Mény in Journal of European Public Policy (1997) 4/2 (contributions by Renaud Dehousse, Alexander Kreher, Giandomenico Majone and Martin Shapiro).