EUROPEAN RAILWAY AGENCY (ERA)
The European Railway Agency has the mission of reinforcing safety and interoperability of railways throughout Europe.
As part of its common transport policy, the Community has adopted legislation to pave the way for gradual establishment of an integrated European railway area - both legally and technically. That involves the development and implementation of Technical Specifications for Interoperability and a common approach to questions concerning railway safety. The Agency's main task is to in the future manage the preparation of all those measures.
Formal establishing of the organisation took place in 2004 by European Regulation No 881/2004, describing the tasks of the Agency, its structure and its working methods together with representatives of the railway sector. The Agency has two physical sites, both in France, an operational headquarter in Valenciennes and facilities for conveying international meetings and conferences in Lille.
During 2005 the Agency has entered the phase of progressive set up, scheduled to end by mid 2006. After this phasing in period, it shall get fully operational, with initially about 100 members of staff, mostly professionals from the European railway sector.