Executive agencies are established by the European Commission to manage EU programmes.
The lifetime of an executive agency is limited and linked to the length of the programmes they manage.A more detailed legal framework for executive agencies is set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003.
REA was legally set up by the Commission in December 2007 to run parts of the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7). The agency started operating in 2009.
REA manages large parts of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme which began in 2014 and continues to look after remaining FP7 projects.
It also provides programme-related administrative and logistical support services to other Commission departments.
REA has its own legal personality, but is supervised and controlled by the European Commission. In particular by Commission departments with research portfolios. The agency is managed by its director together with its steering committee. Memorandum of Understanding between the REA and its parent DGs – 08/02/2016
Like all managers in the agency, the director is an EU official from the European Commission.
The director is responsible for making sure the agency implements all its tasks and executing the agency's administrative budget.
Gilbert Gascard has been the director of the agency since November 2012.
The REA steering committee represents the Commission and makes sure the agency carries out its assigned tasks.
It provides high-level management along with the director. It adopts the agency's administrative budget and annual work programme, approves the annual activity report and adopts rules for personnel management and public access to documents.
The steering committee is composed of five members and two observers - all senior manager from the Commission. Its chairman is Wolfgang Burtscher, Deputy Director General of the Commission's research and innovation department.