Re: Is this a breach of ESA's rules ...
There are *several* important European institutions that the Commission has executed a coup, purely because they have the word European in the name.
E.g. The European Patent Office is not an EU institution, it existed before EU and is completely independent. As of June 1 this year, the Unified Patent Office was initiated by the Commission. If you held an existing patent with the European Patent Office, it has been *unilaterally* and by default moved over to the Unified Patent Office! If you failed to object, in the six-week period allowed to do so, which is now over, you no longer hold a European Patent and you can’t go back. There are, by the way, some good reasons to object, as there are important IP rights you lose in allowing it to pass to UPO.
Most of the original EU treaty organisations have been effectively eviscerated - there were nearly dozen outside the Commission. But the roles are now all duplicated and mastered by Commission Directorates. For example, if you were planning a nuclear reactor, you might expect that to be a Euratom role. But, any direct research is now done through the European Commission Joinr Research Centre, indirect out of Commission Horizon, and all the regulation comes out of Commission DG Energy and DG Environment. Same story on European Environment Agency, also a separate EU Agency established under treaty. Commission has eaten *everything*.