Start of full operations has commenced mid-2006. The organisation employs about 150 members of staff. Its mandate is the creation of a competitive European railway area, by increasing cross-border compatibility of national systems, and in parallel ensuring the required level of safety.
The ERA sets mandatory requirements (as opposed to: voluntary standards) for European railways and manufacturers in the form of ERA Technical Specifications for Interoperability, which apply to the Trans-European Rail system. The ERA publishes a document summarizing the status of the TSIs.  The ERA sets common safety targets, common safety methods and common safety indicators, following Directive 2004/49/EC and amendments. The ERA also hosts a number of databases, among which a register of remaining, applicable national rules.