The European Commission (EC) is the executive of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has often been de ...
(EU). It operates as a
cabinet government A cabinet is a body of high-ranking state officials, typically consisting of the executive branch's top leaders. Members of a cabinet are usually called cabinet ministers or secretaries. The function of a cabinet varies: in some countrie ...
, with 27 members of the Commission (informally known as "Commissioners") headed by a President. It includes an administrative body of about 32,000 European civil servants. The Commission is divided into departments known as
Directorates-General Within the European Union, Directorates-General are departments with specific zones of responsibility, the equivalent of Ministry (government department), ministries at a national level. Most are headed by a European Commissioner, responsible for ...
(DGs) that can be likened to departments or ministries each headed by a Director-General who is responsible to a Commissioner. There is one member per
member state A member state is a state that is a member of an international organization or of a federation or confederation. Since the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) include some members that are not sovereign state ...
, but members are bound by their oath of office to represent the general interest of the EU as a whole rather than their home state. The Commission President (currently Ursula von der Leyen) is proposed by the European Council (the 27 heads of state/governments) and elected by the European Parliament. The Council of the European Union then nominates the other members of the Commission in agreement with the nominated President, and the 27 members as a team are then subject to a vote of approval by the European Parliament. Treaty on European Union: Article 17:7 The current Commission is the Von der Leyen Commission, which took office in December 2019, following the European Parliament elections in May of the same year. The governmental powers of the Commission have been such that some, including former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, have suggested changing its name to the "European Government", calling the present name of the Commission "ridiculous", likening it to a misnomer.


The European Commission derives from one of the five key institutions created in the supranational European Community system, following the proposal of Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister, on 9 May 1950. Originating in 1951 as the High Authority in the European Coal and Steel Community, the commission has undergone numerous changes in power and composition under various presidents, involving three Communities.


The first Commission originated in 1951 as the nine-member " High Authority" under President Jean Monnet (see Monnet Authority). The High Authority was the supranational administrative executive of the new European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). It took office first on 10 August 1952 in Luxembourg City. In 1958, the Treaties of Rome had established two new communities alongside the ECSC: the European Economic Community (EEC) and the
European Atomic Energy Community The European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) is an international organisation established by the Euratom Treaty on 25 March 1957 with the original purpose of creating a specialist market for nuclear power in Europe, by developing nucl ...
(Euratom). However their executives were called "Commissions" rather than "High Authorities". The reason for the change in name was the new relationship between the executives and the Council. Some states, such as France, expressed reservations over the power of the High Authority, and wished to limit it by giving more power to the Council rather than the new executives.
Louis Armand Louis François Armand (17 January 1905 – 30 August 1971) was a French engineer and senior civil servant who managed several public companies, as well as had a significant role in World War II as an officer in the Resistance. He became the f ...
led the first Commission of Euratom. Walter Hallstein led the first Commission of the EEC, holding the first formal meeting on 16 January 1958 at the Château of Val-Duchesse. It achieved agreement on a contentious cereal price accord, as well as making a positive impression upon third countries when it made its international debut at the
Kennedy Round The Kennedy Round was the sixth session of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) multilateral trade negotiations held between 1964 and 1967 in Geneva, Switzerland. Congressional passage of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act in 1962 authorized th ...
of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations. Hallstein notably began the consolidation of
European law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union (EU). Since the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community following World War II, the EU has developed the aim to "promote peace, its valu ...
and started to have a notable impact on national legislation. Little heed was taken of his administration at first but, with help from the European Court of Justice, his Commission stamped its authority solidly enough to allow future Commissions to be taken more seriously. In 1965, however, accumulating differences between the French government of Charles de Gaulle and the other member states on various subjects (British entry, direct elections to Parliament, the Fouchet Plan and the budget) triggered the "empty chair" crisis, ostensibly over proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy. Although the institutional crisis was solved the following year, it cost Étienne Hirsch his presidency of Euratom and later Walter Hallstein the EEC presidency, despite his otherwise being viewed as the most 'dynamic' leader until Jacques Delors.

Early development

The three bodies, collectively named the European Executives, co-existed until 1 July 1967 when, under the Merger Treaty, they were combined into a single administration under President Jean Rey. Owing to the merger, the
Rey Commission The Rey Commission is the European Commission that held office from 2 July 1967 to 30 June 1970. Its president was Jean Rey. Work It was the first commission of the merged European Communities. It was the successor to the Hallstein Commission a ...
saw a temporary increase to 14 members—although subsequent Commissions were reduced back to nine, following the formula of one member for small states and two for larger states. The Rey Commission completed the Community's customs union in 1968, and campaigned for a more powerful, elected, European Parliament. Despite Rey being the first President of the combined communities, Hallstein is seen as the first President of the modern Commission. The Malfatti and
Mansholt Commission The Mansholt Commission is the European Commission that held office from 22 March 1972 to 5 January 1973. Its President was Sicco Mansholt. Work It was the successor to the Malfatti Commission and was succeeded by the Ortoli Commission. It ov ...
s followed with work on monetary co-operation and the first enlargement to the north in 1973. With that enlargement, the College of Commissioners membership increased to thirteen under the
Ortoli Commission The Ortoli Commission is the European Commission that held office from 6 January 1973 to 5 January 1977. Its President was François-Xavier Ortoli. Work It was the successor to the Mansholt Commission and was succeeded by the Jenkins Commission ...
(the United Kingdom as a large member was granted two Commissioners), which dealt with the enlarged community during economic and international instability at that time. The external representation of the Community took a step forward when President Roy Jenkins, recruited to the presidency in January 1977 from his role as Home Secretary of the United Kingdom's Labour government, became the first President to attend a G8 summit on behalf of the Community. Following the Jenkins Commission, Gaston Thorn's Commission oversaw the Community's enlargement to the south, in addition to beginning work on the Single European Act.

Jacques Delors

The Commission headed by Jacques Delors was seen as giving the Community a sense of direction and dynamism. Delors and his College are also considered as the "
founding father The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing a state. National founders are typically those who played an influential role in setting up the systems of governance, (i.e. ...
s of the euro". The '' International Herald Tribune'' noted the work of Delors at the end of his second term in 1992: "Mr. Delors rescued the European Community from the doldrums. He arrived when Europessimism was at its worst. Although he was a little-known former French finance minister, he breathed life and hope into the EC and into the dispirited Brussels Commission. In his first term, from 1985 to 1988, he rallied Europe to the call of the single market, and when appointed to a second term he began urging Europeans toward the far more ambitious goals of economic, monetary and political union".

Jacques Santer

The successor to Delors was Jacques Santer. As a result of a fraud and corruption scandal, the entire Santer Commission was forced by the Parliament to resign in 1999; a central role was played by
Édith Cresson Édith Cresson (; née Campion; born 27 January 1934) is a French politician from the Socialist Party. She served as Prime Minister of France from 1991 to 1992, the first woman to do so. She was the only woman to be prime minister until 2022, whe ...
. These frauds were revealed by an internal auditor, Paul van Buitenen. That was the first time a College of Commissioners had been forced to resign ''en masse'', and represented a shift of power towards the Parliament. However, the Santer Commission did carry out work on the Treaty of Amsterdam and the euro. In response to the scandal, the
European Anti-Fraud Office The European Anti-Fraud Office (commonly known as OLAF, from the french: Office européen de lutte antifraude) is a body mandated by the European Union (EU) with protecting the Union's financial interests. It was founded on 28 April 1999, unde ...
(OLAF) was created.

Romano Prodi

Following Santer, Romano Prodi took office. The Amsterdam Treaty had increased the commission's powers and Prodi was dubbed by the press as something akin to a Prime Minister. Powers were strengthened again; the Treaty of Nice, signed in 2001, gave the Presidents more power over the composition of the College of Commissioners.

José Manuel Barroso

José Manuel Barroso became president in 2004: the Parliament once again asserted itself in objecting to the proposed membership of the Barroso Commission. Owing to this opposition, Barroso was forced to reshuffle his College before taking office. The Barroso Commission was also the first full Commission since the enlargement in 2004 to 25 members; hence, the number of Commissioners at the end of the Prodi Commission had reached 30. As a result of the increase in the number of states, the Amsterdam Treaty triggered a reduction in the number of Commissioners to one per state, rather than two for the larger states. Allegations of fraud and corruption were again raised in 2004 by former chief auditor Jules Muis. A Commission officer, Guido Strack, reported alleged fraud and abuses in his department in the years 2002–2004 to OLAF, and was fired as a result. In 2008, Paul van Buitenen (the former auditor known from the Santer Commission scandal) accused the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) of a lack of independence and effectiveness. Barroso's first Commission term expired on 31 October 2009. Under the Treaty of Nice, the first Commission to be appointed after the number of member states reached 27 would have to be reduced to "less than the number of Member States". The exact number of Commissioners was to be decided by a unanimous vote of the European Council, and membership would rotate equally between member states. Following the accession of Romania and Bulgaria in January 2007, this clause took effect for the next Commission. The Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force on 1 December 2009, mandated a reduction of the number of commissioners to two-thirds of member-states from 2014 unless the Council decided otherwise. Membership would rotate equally and no member state would have more than one Commissioner. However, the treaty was rejected by voters in Ireland in 2008 with one main concern being the loss of their Commissioner. Hence a guarantee given for a rerun of the vote was that the council would use its power to amend the number of Commissioners upwards. However, according to the treaties it still has to be fewer than the total number of members, thus it was proposed that the member state that does not get a Commissioner would get the post of High Representative – the so-called 26+1 formula. This guarantee (which may find its way into the next treaty amendment, probably in an accession treaty) contributed to the Irish approving the treaty in a second referendum in 2009. Lisbon also combined the posts of
European Commissioner for External Relations The European Commissioner for External Relations was a member of the European Commission with responsibility over the Commissions external representation in the world and the European Union's (EU) Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The responsibility ...
with the council's
High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) is the chief co-ordinator and representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) within the European Union (EU). The position is currently held b ...
. This post, also a Vice-President of the Commission, would chair the Council of the European Union's foreign affairs meetings as well as the commission's external relations duties. The treaty further provides that the most recent European elections should be "''taken into account''" when appointing the President of the European Commission, and although they are still proposed by the European Council; the European Parliament "''elects''" candidates to the office, rather than "''approves''" them as under the Treaty of Nice. The Barroso Commission is, in reaction to
Euroscepticism Euroscepticism, also spelled as Euroskepticism or EU-scepticism, is a political position involving criticism of the European Union (EU) and European integration. It ranges from those who oppose some EU institutions and policies, and seek refor ...
, said to have toned down enforcement to increase integration.

Jean-Claude Juncker

In 2014,
Jean-Claude Juncker Jean-Claude Juncker (; born 9 December 1954) is a Luxembourgish politician who served as the 21st Prime Minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013 and 12th President of the European Commission from 2014 to 2019. He also served as Finance Minister ...
became President of the European Commission. Juncker appointed his previous campaign director and head of the transition team, Martin Selmayr, as his chief of cabinet. During the Juncker presidency Selmayr has been described as "the most powerful EU chief of staff ever."

Ursula von der Leyen

In 2019, Ursula von der Leyen was appointed as the next President of the European Commission. She submitted the guidelines of her policy for 2019–2024 to the European Parliament on 16 July 2019, following her confirmation. She had not been considered a likely candidate (in general, the elected candidate is determined, according to the results of the European election, as winner of internal election into the dominant European party known as "spitzenkandidat"). While the European People's Party had won the European parliament election, they had performed worse than expected and therefore nominated von der Leyen instead of Manfred Weber, their original candidate. On 9 September, the Council of the European Union declared a list of candidate-commissioners, which are sent to Brussels by the governments of each member state and which had to be officially approved by the parliament.

Powers and functions

The commission was set up from the start to act as an independent supranational authority separate from governments; it has been described as "the only body paid to think European". The members are proposed by their member state governments, one from each. However, they are bound to act independently – free from other influences such as those governments which appointed them. This is in contrast to the Council of the European Union, which represents governments, the European Parliament, which represents citizens, the
Economic and Social Committee The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a consultative body of the European Union (EU) established in 1958. It is an advisory assembly composed of "social partners", namely: employers ( employers' organisations), employees (trade ...
, which represents organised civil society, and the
Committee of the Regions The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the European Union's (EU) assembly of local and regional representatives that provides sub-national authorities (i.e. regions, counties, provinces, municipalities and cities) with a direct voice w ...
, which represents local and regional authorities. Through Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union the commission has several responsibilities: to develop medium-term strategies; to draft legislation and arbitrate in the legislative process; to represent the EU in trade negotiations; to make rules and regulations, for example in competition policy; to draw up the budget of the European Union; and to scrutinise the implementation of the treaties and legislation. The rules of procedure of the European Commission set out the commission's operation and organisation.

Executive power

Before the Treaty of Lisbon came into force, the executive power of the EU was held by the council: it conferred on the Commission such powers for it to exercise. However, the council was allowed to withdraw these powers, exercise them directly, or impose conditions on their use. This aspect has been changed by the Treaty of Lisbon, after which the Commission exercises its powers just by virtue of the treaties. Powers are more restricted than most national executives, in part due to the commission's lack of power over areas like foreign policy – that power is held by the Council of the European Union and the European Council, which some analysts have described as another executive. Considering that under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Council has become a formal institution with the power of appointing the commission, it could be said that the two bodies hold the executive power of the EU (the European Council also holds individual national executive powers). However, it is the Commission that currently holds executive powers over the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has often been de ...

Legislative initiative

The Commission differs from the other institutions in that it alone has legislative initiative in the EU. Only the commission can make formal proposals for legislation: they cannot originate in the legislative branches. Under the Treaty of Lisbon, no legislative act is allowed in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In the other fields, the Council and Parliament are able to request legislation; in most cases the Commission initiates on the basis of these proposals. This monopoly is designed to ensure coordinated and coherent drafting of
EU law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union (EU). Since the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community following World War II, the EU has developed the aim to "promote peace, its val ...
. This monopoly has been challenged by some who claim the Parliament should also have the right, with most national parliaments holding the right in some respects. However, the Council and Parliament may request the commission to draft legislation, though the Commission does have the power to refuse to do so as it did in 2008 over transnational collective conventions. Under the Lisbon Treaty, EU citizens are also able to request the commission to legislate in an area via a petition carrying one million signatures, but this is not binding. The commission's powers in proposing law have usually centred on economic regulation. It has put forward a large number of regulations based on a " precautionary principle". This means that pre-emptive regulation takes place if there is a credible hazard to the environment or human health: for example on tackling climate change and restricting
genetically modified organisms A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. The exact definition of a genetically modified organism and what constitutes genetic engineering varies, with ...
. The European Commission has committed EU member states to
carbon neutrality Carbon neutrality is a state of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions. This can be achieved by balancing emissions of carbon dioxide with its removal (often through carbon offsetting) or by eliminating emissions from society (the transition to the "p ...
by 2050. This is opposed to weighting regulations for their effect on the economy. Thus, the Commission often proposes stricter legislation than other countries. Owing to the size of the European market, this has made EU legislation an important influence in the global market. Recently the commission has moved into creating European criminal law. In 2006, a toxic waste spill off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire, from a European ship, prompted the commission to look into legislation against toxic waste. Some EU states at that time did not even have a crime against shipping toxic waste; this led the Commissioners Franco Frattini and Stavros Dimas to put forward the idea of "ecological crimes". Their right to propose criminal law was challenged in the European Court of Justice but upheld. As of 2007, the only other criminal law proposals which have been brought forward are on the intellectual property rights directive, and on an amendment to the 2002 counter-terrorism framework decision, outlawing terrorism‑related incitement, recruitment (especially via the internet) and training.


Once legislation is passed by the Council and Parliament, it is the Commission's responsibility to ensure it is implemented. It does this through the member states or through its agencies. In adopting the necessary technical measures, the Commission is assisted by committees made up of representatives of member states and of the public and private lobbies (a process known in jargon as "
comitology Comitology in the European Union refers to a process by which EU law is implemented, modified or adjusted and takes place within "comitology committees" chaired by the European Commission. The official term for the process is committee procedur ...
"). Furthermore, the commission is responsible for the implementation of the
EU budget The Budget of the European Union (EU budget) is used to finance EU funding programmes (such as the European Regional Development Fund, the Cohesion Fund, Horizon Europe, or Erasmus+) and other expenditure at the European level. The EU budget ...
, ensuring, along with the
Court of Auditors The European Court of Auditors (ECA; French: ''Cour des comptes européenne'') is one of the seven institutions of the European Union (EU). It was established in 1975 in Luxembourg in order to improve EU financial management. It has 27 members ( ...
, that EU funds are correctly spent. In particular the Commission has a duty to ensure the treaties and law are upheld, potentially by taking member states or other institutions to the Court of Justice in a dispute. In this role it is known informally as the "Guardian of the Treaties". Finally, the Commission provides some external representation for the Union, alongside the member states and the Common Foreign and Security Policy, representing the Union in bodies such as the World Trade Organization. It is also usual for the President to attend meetings of the G8.


The commission is composed of a College of " Commissioners" of members, including the President and vice-presidents. Even though each member is nominated on the basis of the suggestions made by the national governments, one per state, they do not represent their state in the commission. In practice, however, they do occasionally press for their national interest. Once proposed, the President delegates portfolios among each of the members. The power of a Commissioner largely depends upon their portfolio, and can vary over time. For example, the
Education Commissioner Education is a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitting knowledge or fostering skills and character traits. These aims may include the development of understanding, rationality, kindness, and honesty. Vari ...
has been growing in importance, in line with the rise in the importance of education and culture in European policy-making. Another example is the Competition Commissioner, who holds a highly visible position with global reach. Before the commission can assume office, the College as a whole must be approved by the Parliament. Commissioners are supported by their personal cabinet who give them political guidance, while the Civil Service (the DGs, see below) deal with technical preparation.


The President of the Commission is first proposed by the European Council, following a Qualified Majority Vote (QMV), taking into account the latest parliamentary elections (any person from the largest party can be picked); that candidate then faces a formal election in the European Parliament. If the European Parliament fails to elect the candidate, the European Council shall propose another within one month. Following the selection of the President, and the appointment of the
High Representative The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) is the chief co-ordinator and representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) within the European Union (EU). The position is currently held b ...
by the European Council, each Commissioner is nominated by their member state (except for those states who provided the President and High Representative) in consultation with the Commission President, who is responsible for the allocation of portfolios. The President's proposed College of Commissioners is then subject to hearings at the European Parliament which will question them and then vote on their suitability as a whole. If the European Parliament submits a negative opinion of a candidate, the President must either reshuffle them or request a new candidate from the member state to avoid the College's outright rejection by the European Parliament. Once the College is approved by parliament, it is formally appointed following a QMV vote by the European Council. Following the College's appointment, the President appoints a number of
Vice-Presidents A vice president, also director in British English, is an officer in government or business who is below the president (chief executive officer) in rank. It can also refer to executive vice presidents, signifying that the vice president is on t ...
(the High Representative is mandated to be one of them) from among the commissioners. For the most part, the position grants little extra power to Vice-Presidents, except the first Vice-President who stands in for the President when they are away.


The European Parliament can dissolve the College of Commissioners as a whole following a
vote of no-confidence A motion of no confidence, also variously called a vote of no confidence, no-confidence motion, motion of confidence, or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote about whether a person in a position of responsibility like in government or mana ...
, which requires a two-thirds vote. Only the President can request the resignation of an individual Commissioner. However, individual Commissioners, by request of the council or Commission, can be compelled to retire on account of a breach of obligation(s) and if so ruled by the European Court of Justice (Art. 245 and 247, Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

Political styles

The Barroso Commission took office in late 2004 after being delayed by objections from the Parliament, which forced a reshuffle. In 2007 the Commission increased from 25 to 27 members with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria who each appointed their own Commissioners. With the increasing size of the commission, Barroso adopted a more presidential style of control over the college, which earned him some criticism. However, under Barroso, the commission began to lose ground to the larger member states as countries such as France, the UK and Germany sought to sideline its role. This has increased with the creation of the President of the European Council under the Treaty of Lisbon. There has also been a greater degree of politicisation within the Commission.


The commission is divided into departments known as
Directorates-General Within the European Union, Directorates-General are departments with specific zones of responsibility, the equivalent of Ministry (government department), ministries at a national level. Most are headed by a European Commissioner, responsible for ...
(DGs) that can be likened to departments or ministries. Each covers a specific policy area such as agriculture or justice and citizens' rights or internal services such as human resources and translation and is headed by a director-general who is responsible to a commissioner. A commissioner's portfolio can be supported by numerous DGs; they prepare proposals for them and if approved by a majority of commissioners proposals go forward to the Parliament and Council for consideration. The Commission's civil service is headed by a Secretary General. The position is currently held by Ilze Juhansone. The rules of procedure of the European Commission set out the Commission's operation and organisation. There has been criticism from a number of people that the highly fragmented DG structure wastes a considerable amount of time in turf wars as the different departments and Commissioners compete with each other. Furthermore, the DGs can exercise considerable control over a Commissioner with the Commissioner having little time to learn to assert control over their staff. According to figures published by the Commission, 23,803 persons were employed by the Commission as officials and temporary agents in September 2012. In addition to these, 9230 "external staff" (e.g. Contractual agents, detached national experts, young experts,
trainees A trainee is commonly known as an individual taking part in a trainee program within an organization after having graduated from higher and technical courses. A trainee is an official employee of the firm that is being trained to the job they wer ...
etc.) were employed. The single largest DG is the Directorate-General for Translation, with a 2309-strong staff, while the largest group by nationality is Belgian (18.7%), probably due to a majority (17,664) of staff being based in the country.


Communication with the press is handled by the
Directorate-General Communication The Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) is a Directorate-General of the European Commission. The mission of the DG Communication is: * To inform the media and citizens of the activities of the European Commission and to communicate the ...
. The Commission's chief spokesperson is Eric Mamer who holds the midday press briefings, commonly known as the "Midday Presser". It takes place every weekday in the Commission's press room at the Berlaymont where journalists may ask questions to the Commission officials on any topic and legitimately expect to get an "on the record" answer for live TV. Such a situation is unique in the world. As an integral part of the Directorate-General for Communication, th
Spokesperson's Service
in coordination with the Executive Communication Adviser in the President’s Cabinet, supports the President and Commissioners so that they can communicate effectively. On political communication matters, the chief spokesperson reports directly to the President of the European Commission. It has been noted by one researcher that the press releases issued by the Commission are uniquely political. A release often goes through several stages of drafting which emphasises the role of the Commission and is used "for justifying the EU and the Commission" increasing their length and complexity. Where there are multiple departments involved a press release can also be a source of competition between areas of the Commission and Commissioners themselves. This also leads to an unusually high number of press releases, and is seen as a unique product of the EU's political set-up. There is a larger press corps in Brussels than Washington, D.C.; in 2020, media outlets in every Union member-state had a Brussels
correspondent A correspondent or on-the-scene reporter is usually a journalist or commentator for a magazine, or an agent who contributes reports to a newspaper, or radio or television news, or another type of company, from a remote, often distant, locati ...
. Although there has been a worldwide cut in journalists, the considerable press releases and operations such as
Europe by Satellite Europe by Satellite (EbS) is the TV information service of the European Union which includes 2 TV channels: EbS and EbS+. Managed by the European Commission, it broadcasts images coming from all EU Institutions like the European Parliament, the Eu ...
EuroparlTV EuroparlTV is the webTV of the European Parliament. The service includes news, debates, interviews, educational videos, archived content as well as live streaming of parliamentary sessions and committee meetings. All videos are subtitled in all 2 ...
leads many news organisations to believe they can cover the EU from these source and
news agencies A news agency is an organization that gathers news reports and sells them to subscribing news organizations, such as newspapers, magazines and radio and television broadcasters. A news agency may also be referred to as a wire service, newswire, ...
. In the face of high-level criticism, the Commission shut down Presseurop on 20 December 2013.

Legitimacy and criticism

As the Commission is the executive branch, candidates are chosen individually by the national governments. Within the EU, the legitimacy of the Commission is mainly drawn from the vote of approval that is required from the European Parliament, along with its power to dismiss the body. Eurosceptics have therefore raised the concern of the relatively low turnout (often less than 50%) in elections for the European Parliament since 1999. While that figure may be higher than that of some national elections, including the off-year elections of the United States Congress, the fact that there are no direct elections for the position of Commission President calls the position's legitimacy into question in the eyes of some Eurosceptics. The fact that the Commission can directly decide (albeit with oversight from specially formed 'comitology committees') on the shape and character of implementing legislation further raises concerns about democratic legitimacy. Even though democratic structures and methods are changing there is not such a mirror in creating a European
civil society Civil society can be understood as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business, and including the family and the private sphere.Treaty of Lisbon may go some way to resolving the perceived deficit in creating greater democratic controls on the Commission, including enshrining the procedure of linking elections to the selection of the Commission president. Historically, the Commission had indeed been seen as a technocratic expert body which, akin with institutions such as independent central banks, deals with technical areas of policy and therefore ought to be removed from party politics. From this viewpoint, electoral pressures would undermine the Commission's role as an independent regulator. Defenders of the Commission point out that legislation must be approved by the Council in all areas (the ministers of member states) and the European Parliament in most areas before it can be adopted, thus the amount of legislation which is adopted in any one country without the approval of its government is limited. In 2009 the European ombudsman published statistics of citizens' complaints against EU institutions, with most of them filed against the Commission (66%) and concerning lack of transparency (36%). In 2010 the Commission was sued for blocking access to documents on EU biofuel policy. This happened after media accused the Commission of blocking scientific evidence against biofuel subsidies. Lack of transparency, unclear lobbyist relations, conflicts of interests and excessive spending of the Commission was highlighted in a number of reports by internal and independent auditing organisations. It has also been criticised on IT-related issues, particularly with regard to Microsoft. In September 2020, the European Commission put forward an Anti-Racism Action Plan to tackle the structural racism in the European Union, including measures to address the lack of racial diversity among the European decision makers in Brussels, as denounced by the #BrusselsSoWhite movement.



The European Commission has an Action Plan to enhance preparedness against
chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRN defence) are protective measures taken in situations in which chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear warfare (including terrorism) hazards may be present. CBRN defence consist ...
(CBRN) security risks as part of its anti-terrorism package released in October 2017. In recent times Europe has seen an increased threat level of CBRN attacks. As such, the European Commission's preparedness plan is important, said Steven Neville Chatfield, a director for the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response in the United Kingdom's
Health Protection Agency The Health Protection Agency (HPA) was a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom. It was an organisation that was set up by the UK government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and envi ...
. For the first time, the European Commission proposed that medical preparedness for CBRN attack threats is a high priority. "The European Commission's (EC) Action Plan to enhance preparedness against CBRN security risks is part of its anti-terrorism package released in October 2017, a strategy aimed at better protecting the more than 511 million citizens across the 27 member states of the European Union (EU)."

COVID-19 response

The European Commission organized a video conference of world leaders on 4 May 2020 to raise funds for COVID-19 vaccine development. US$8 billion was raised. The United States declined to join this video conference or to contribute funds. The European Commission issued a new multi-year data plan in February 2020 pushing the digitalization of all aspects of EU society for the benefit of civic and economic growth. The goal of this data strategy is to create a single market for data in which data flows across the EU and across sectors while maintaining full respect for privacy and data protection, where access rules are fair, and where the European economy benefits enormously as a global player as a result of the new data economy.


The commission is primarily based in Brussels, with the President's office and the commission's meeting room on the 13th floor of the Berlaymont building. The commission also operates out of numerous other buildings in Brussels and Luxembourg City. When the Parliament is meeting in Strasbourg, the Commissioners also meet there in the Winston Churchill building to attend the Parliament's debates. The Members of the Commission and their "cabinets" (immediate teams) are also based in the Berlaymont building in Brussels. Additionally, the European Commission has in-house scientific facilities that support it in:
Ispra Ispra is a ''comune'' and small town on the eastern coast of Lake Maggiore, in the province of Varese (Lombardy, northern Italy). Toponymy Attested by the name ''Ispira'' (712), ''Ispira'' (XIV). Appears as ''Ispratium'' in Aegidius Tschudi's '' ...
, Italy;
Petten Petten is a village in the Dutch province of North Holland. It is a part of the municipality of Schagen, and lies about 15 km northwest of Alkmaar, on the North Sea. The population is ca. 1900. Petten's economy is based on agriculture (bul ...
, the Netherlands; Karlsruhe, Germany;
Geel Geel () is a city located in the Belgian province of Antwerp, which acquired city status in the 1980s. It comprises Central-Geel which is constituted of 4 old parishes a/o towns: Sint-Amand, Sint-Dimpna, Holven and Elsum. Further on around the ce ...
, Belgium and Seville, Spain. In Grange, Ireland there is a Commission site hosting part of DG Santè.

See also

European Free Trade Association Surveillance Authority The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) monitors compliance with the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway; the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States which are a part of the EEA Agreement, allowin ...
List of European Commissioners by nationality A European Commissioner is a member of the European Commission. Each Commissioner within the college holds a specific portfolio and are led by the President of the European Commission. In simple terms they are the equivalent of national ministers ...
EU Open Data Portal Before data.europa.eu, the EU Open Data Portal was the point of access to public data published by the EU institutions, agencies and other bodies. On April 21, 2021 it was consolidated to the data.europa.eu portal, together with the European Data ...
* European Data Portal


External links

European Commission
European Commission welcome page – Retrieved 12 May 2016.

EUR-Lex Eur-Lex (stylized EUR-Lex) is an official website of European Union law and other public documents of the European Union (EU), published in 24 official languages of the EU. The Official Journal (OJ) of the European Union is also published on EU ...

of the European Commission are consultable at th
Historical Archives of the EU
in Florence.

on CVCE website – Multimedia website with historical information on the European integration Studies. No such material is found on the page. This page contains a legal Notice and warning about copyrighted material. Last Access 18 April 2013.

Retrieved 10 October 2012. {{Authority control Anti-dumping authorities Organizations established in 1967 Organisations based in Brussels