The European Railway Agency (ERA) was set up by means of Regulation (EC) no 881/2004 in April 2004 with the aim to improve interoperability and safety of the European rail network. Its main tasks have been to harmonise, register and monitor TSIs across the entire European rail network and to set common safety targets for the European railways.

At that time, ERA had no decision-making powers. Its only role consisted in supporting the EC with technical assistance in the fields of interoperability and safety.

In 2006, the EC adopted a decision concerning mandates to ERA for developing TSIs under Directive 2001/16/EC and common safety methods and common harmonised requirements for safety certification under Directive 2004/49/EC.

In 2007, the EC adopted a decision concerning a framework mandate to ERA for the performance or certain activities under Directives 96/48/EC and 2001/16/EC.

Regulation (EC) no 1335/2008 assigned new tasks to the Agency in response to the changes made to the Railway Safety Directive 2004/49/EC and to the Directive on the interoperability of the rail system 2008/57/EC.

In 2010, the EC adopted a decision concerning a mandate to ERA to develop and review TSIs with a view to extending their scope to the whole rail system in the EU.

⇒ With each legal act, the EU extended the scope of safety and strengthened the role of the EU vs the Member States. However, the powers and the status of the ERA remained unchanged.