In 2004, the Railway Safety Directive 2004/49/EC was adopted to create a common European regulatory framework for safety, i.e. the tasks and responsibilities related to a safety management system (SMS).

The Directive introduced common safety methods (CSMs), developed by ERA to provide a common approach to assess the level of safety and performance of all actors (RUs, IMs, wagon keepers, etc.) at EU level and in Member States. It introduced a certification scheme for entities in charge of maintenance (ECM) of freight wagons and required Member States to develop a system of national safety rules.

Directive 2004/49/EC was complemented by Directive 2008/57/EC (interoperability) and 2008/68/EC (inland transport of dangerous goods).

The EC adopted Regulation 445/2011/EU introducing a system of certification of entities in charge of maintenance for freight wagons.

⇒ With each Directive, 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 as such remained unchanged.