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The European Commission (EC) is the
executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. The executive executes and enforces law. In political systems based on the princi ...
of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of that are located primarily in . The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. has been established through a standardised that apply in ...

European Union
, responsible for proposing legislation, enforcing EU laws and directing the union's administrative operations. Commissioners swear an oath at the
European Court of Justice The European Court of Justice (ECJ, french: Cour de Justice européenne), formally just the Court of Justice, is the supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government i ...

European Court of Justice
in
Luxembourg City Luxembourg ( lb, Lëtzebuerg; french: Luxembourg; german: Luxemburg), also known as Luxembourg City ( lb, Stad Lëtzebuerg, link=no or ; french: Ville de Luxembourg, link=no; german: Stadt Luxemburg, link=no or ), is the capital city A c ...
, pledging to respect the treaties and to be completely independent in carrying out their duties during their mandate. The Commissioners are proposed by the
Council of the European Union A council is a group of people who come together to consult, deliberate, or make decisions. A council may function as a legislature, especially at a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and s ...

Council of the European Union
, on the basis of suggestions made by the national governments, and then appointed by the
European Council The European Council (informally EUCO) is a collegiate body that defines the overall political directions and priorities of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European U ...
after the approval of the
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legi ...

European Parliament
. It is common, although not a formal requirement, that the commissioners have previously held senior political positions, such as being a member of the European Parliament or a government minister. This EU institution operates as a
cabinet government A cabinet is a body of high-ranking state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a ...
, with 27 members of the Commission (informally known as "commissioners"). 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 states, ...
, but members are bound by their
oath of office An oath of office is an oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American En ...
to represent the general interest of the EU as a whole rather than their home state. One of the 27 is the
Commission President The President of the European Commission is the head of the European Commission, the executive branch of the :European Union. The President of the Commission leads a Cabinet of Commissioners, referred to as the ''College'', collectively account ...
(currently
Ursula von der Leyen Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen (; ' Albrecht; born 8 October 1958) is a German politician and physician who has been President of the European Commission since 1 December 2019. Prior to her current position, she served in the Cabinet of Germany ...

Ursula von der Leyen
) proposed by the European Council 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 single body 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 The von der Leyen Commission is the current European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the Executive (government), executive branch of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Tre ...
, which took office in December 2019, following the European Parliament elections in May of the same year. The term ''Commission'' is variously used, either in the narrow sense of the 27-member College of Commissioners (or College) or to also include the administrative body of about 32,000
European civil servants European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...
who are split into departments called directorates-general and services. The procedural languages of the commission are English, French and German. The Members of the Commission and their "cabinets" (immediate teams) are based in the
Berlaymont building The Berlaymont () is an office building in Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=n ...

Berlaymont building
in
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brusse ...

Brussels
.


History

The European Commission derives from one of the five key institutions created in the supranational European Community system, following the proposal of
Robert Schuman Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Robert Schuman (; 29 June 18864 September 1963) was a Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=n ...
, French Foreign Minister, on 9 May 1950. Originating in 1951 as the High Authority in the
European Coal and Steel Community The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was a European organisation An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Lega ...

European Coal and Steel Community
, the commission has undergone numerous changes in power and composition under various presidents, involving three Communities.


Establishment

The first Commission originated in 1951 as the nine-member " High Authority" under President
Jean Monnet Jean Omer Marie Gabriel Monnet (; 9 November 1888 – 16 March 1979) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, ...

Jean Monnet
(see
Monnet Authority The Monnet Authority was the first High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community, High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), between 1952 and 1955. Its president was Jean Monnet of France. Monnet resigned on Europe d ...
). 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 The Treaty of Rome, or EEC Treaty (officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community), brought about the creation of the European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organization that ...
had established two new communities alongside the ECSC: the
European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organization and Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece ...

European Economic Community
(EEC) and the
European Atomic Energy Community The European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international affairs. ...

European Atomic Energy Community
(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 A council is a group of people who come together to consult, deliberate, or make decisions. A council may function as a legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is t ...

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 Armand (17 January 1905 – 30 August 1971) was a French engineer Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are Professional, professionals who Invention, invent, design, analyze, build and test Machine, machines, complex systems, arc ...

Louis Armand
led the first Commission of Euratom.
Walter Hallstein Walter Hallstein (17 November 1901 – 29 March 1982) was a German academic, diplomat and statesman who was the first President of the Commission of the European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regiona ...
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 The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is a legal agreement between many countries, whose overall purpose was to promote international trade by reduci ...
of
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is a between many countries, whose overall purpose was to promote by reducing or eliminating s such as or . According to its preamble, its purpose was the "substantial reduction of tariffs a ...
(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 The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily ...
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 The European Court of Justice (ECJ, french: Cour de Justice européenne), formally just the Court of Justice, is the supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government i ...

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 Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (; ; 22 November 18909 November 1970) was a French army officer and statesman who led against in and chaired the from 1944 to 1946 in order to reestablish democracy in . In 1958, he came out of retire ...
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 The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the agricultural policy of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. ...
. Although the institutional crisis was solved the following year, it cost Étienne Hirsch his presidency of
Euratom The European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) is an international organization, international organisation established by the Euratom Treaty on 25 March 1957 with the original purpose of creating a specialist market for nuclear power in ...

Euratom
and later Walter Hallstein the EEC presidency, despite his otherwise being viewed as the most 'dynamic' leader until
Jacques Delors Jacques Lucien Jean Delors (born 20 July 1925) is a French politician who served as the 8th President of the European Commission from 1985 to 1995. He served as Minister of the Economy, Finances and Industry (France), Minister of Finance of Franc ...
.


Early development

The three bodies, collectively named the European Executives, co-existed until 1 July 1967 when, under the
Merger Treaty The Merger Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Brussels, was a Treaties of the European Union, European treaty which unified the Executive (government), executive Institutions of the European Union, institutions of the European European Coal and Ste ...
, they were combined into a single administration under President Jean Rey. Owing to the merger, the
Rey Commission Rey''Term: 1967-1970''  ''Party: LDR'' The Rey Commission is the European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the Executive (government), executive branch of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implement ...
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 A customs union is generally defined as a type of trade bloc A trade bloc is a type of trade pact, intergovernmental agreement, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization, where barriers to trade (tariffs and Non-tariff barriers to tr ...

customs union
in 1968, and campaigned for a more powerful, elected,
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legi ...

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 overs ...
s followed with work on monetary co-operation and the first 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 The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance o ...
(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 Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead, (11 November 1920 – 5 January 2003) was a British politician who served as President of the European Commission The President of the European Commission is the head of the European Com ...
, recruited to the presidency in January 1977 from his role as
Home Secretary The home secretary, officially the secretary of state for the Home Department, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, i ...
of the United Kingdom's
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 13 ...
government, became the first President to attend a summit on behalf of the Community. Following the Jenkins Commission,
Gaston Thorn Gaston Egmond Thorn (3 September 192826 August 2007) was a who served in a number of high-profile positions, both domestically and internationally. Amongst the posts that he held were the 19th (1974–1979), (1975), and the (1981–1985). L ...
's
Commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the creation of a piece of art most often on behalf of another ...
oversaw the Community's enlargement to the south, in addition to beginning work on the
Single European Act The Single European Act (SEA) was the first major revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome The Treaty of Rome, or EEC Treaty (officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community), brought about the creation of the European Economi ...
.


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 euro (symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an , , or . Symbols allow people to go beyond what is n or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different s and s. Al ...

euro
". The ''
International Herald TribuneThe ''International Herald Tribune'' (IHT) was a daily English-language newspaper published in Paris, France for international English-speaking readers. It was the first “global” newspaper. It published under the name ''International Herald Tribu ...

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 Jacques Santer (born 18 May 1937) is a Luxembourg politician who served as the 9th President of the European Commission from 1995 to 1999. He served as Finance Minister of Luxembourg from 1979 until 1989, and the 20th Prime Minister of Luxem ...

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. She is the first, and so far only, woman to have held the office of Prime Minister of France A prime number (or a prime) is a natural number In mathematics, t ...
. 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 The Treaty of Amsterdam, officially the Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts, was signed on 2 October 1997, and entered into force on 1 May 1999; it ...
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 The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the Eur ...
(OLAF) was created.


Romano Prodi

Following Santer,
Romano Prodi Romano Prodi (; born 9 August 1939) is an Italian politician A politician is a person active in party politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power ...
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 The Treaty of Nice was signed by European leaders on 26 February 2001 and came into force on 1 February 2003. It amended the Maastricht Treaty The Maastricht Treaty, concluded in 1992 between the 12 member states of the European Communitie ...
, signed in 2001, gave the Presidents more power over the composition of the College of Commissioners.


José Manuel Barroso

José Manuel Barroso José Manuel Durão Barroso (; born 23 March 1956) is a Portuguese people, Portuguese politician and university teacher, currently serving as non-executive Chairman of Goldman Sachs International. He previously served as the 11th President of t ...
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 The European Council (informally EUCO) is a collegiate body that defines the overall political directions and priorities of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European U ...
, 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 The European Commission (EC) is the Executive (government), executive branch of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing d ...
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 by ...
. 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.


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 The prime minister of Luxembourg (french: Premier ministre du Luxembourg) is the head of government in Luxembourg. His ...

Jean-Claude Juncker
became President of the European Commission. Juncker appointed his previous campaign director and head of the transition team,
Martin Selmayr Martin Selmayr (born 5 December 1970) is a European Civil Service, European civil servant from Germany who was Secretary-General of the European Commission from 2018 to 2019 and Chief of Staff to President of the European Commission, Commission Pre ...
, 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 Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen (; ' Albrecht; born 8 October 1958) is a German politician and physician who has been President of the European Commission since 1 December 2019. Prior to her current position, she served in the Cabinet of Germany ...

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 The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legi ...

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 The European People's Party (EPP) is a European political party A European political party, known formally as a political party at European level and informally as a Europarty, is a type of political party organisation operating transnation ...

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 Manfred Weber (born 14 July 1972) is a German politician who has served as Leader of the European People's Party (European Parliament group), European People's Party in the European Parliament since 2014. He has been a Member of the European Parli ...
, their original candidate. On 9 September, the
European Council The European Council (informally EUCO) is a collegiate body that defines the overall political directions and priorities of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European U ...
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 Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and t ...
, 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' organization, employers' organisation ...

Economic and Social Committee
, which represents organised civil society, and the
Committee of the Regions The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a c ...
, 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 The European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total populati ...
; 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 The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, als ...
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 ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It produces content daily on its website, and in six print issues annually. ''Foreign Poli ...
 – that power is held by 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 political and economic union of that are located primarily in . The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. has been established through a standardised that apply in ...

European Union
. The governmental powers of the Commission have been such that some, including former
Belgian Prime Minister#REDIRECT Prime Minister of Belgium#REDIRECT Prime Minister of Belgium {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
Guy Verhofstadt Guy Maurice Marie Louise Verhofstadt (; ; born 11 April 1953) is a Belgian politician who was the Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe from 2009 to 2019, and has been a Member of the European Parliament A Member of t ...
, have suggested changing its name to the "European Government", calling the present name of the Commission "ridiculous".


Legislative initiative

The Commission differs from the other institutions in that it alone has
legislative initiative The right of (legislative) initiative is the constitutionally defined power to propose a new law (bill (proposed law), bill). The right of initiative is usually attributed to parliaments, which in most countries have the right to make law proposals ...
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 The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is the organised, agreed foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It ...
. 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 The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a whic ...
. 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 The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) is a broad epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as fac ...

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 Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
and restricting
genetically modified organisms A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_inheritance#History, Mendelian units of heredity..." (Greek langua ...
. The European Commission has committed EU member states to
carbon neutrality Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities strengthen the greenhouse effect, causing climate change. Most is carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels: coal, petroleum, ...
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 Franco Frattini (born 14 March 1957 in Rome) is an Italian politician, twice foreign minister of the Berlusconi cabinets (in 2002–2004 and 2008–2011) and once European Commissioner in the first Barroso Commission The Barroso Commission was ...

Franco Frattini
and
Stavros Dimas Stavros Dimas ( el, Σταύρος Δήμας, ; born 30 April 1941) is a Greek politician who was European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the Executive (government), executive branch of the European Union, responsible for proposi ...

Stavros Dimas
to put forward the idea of "ecological crimes". Their right to propose criminal law was challenged in the
European Court of Justice The European Court of Justice (ECJ, french: Cour de Justice européenne), formally just the Court of Justice, is the supreme court The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government i ...

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.


Enforcement

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 Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution * the abstract principle that autonomous beings, agents, are capable of acting by themselves; see autonomy Abstract principle * Agency (law), a person acting on behalf of another person ...
. 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
lobbies
(a process known in jargon as "
comitology Comitology in the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated ...
"). Furthermore, the commission is responsible for the implementation of the
EU budget The European Union has a budget to finance policies carried out at European level (such as agriculture, regional development, space, trans-European networks, research and innovation, health, education and culture, migration, border protection a ...
, 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 The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, membe ...
, 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
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 The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is the organised, agreed foreign policy ''Foreign Policy'' is an American news publication, founded in 1970 and focused on global affairs, current events, and domestic and international policy. It ...
, representing the Union in bodies such as the
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through ...
. It is also usual for the President to attend meetings of the
G8
G8
.


College

The commission is composed of a College of "
Commissioners A commissioner is, in principle, a member of a Regulatory agency, commission or an individual who has been given a Wiktionary: commission, commission (official charge or authority to do something). In practice, the title of commissioner has evolve ...
" 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 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 civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leader ...
(the DGs, see below) deal with technical preparation.


Appointment

The President of the Commission is first proposed by the
European Council The European Council (informally EUCO) is a collegiate body that defines the overall political directions and priorities of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European U ...
, following a Qualified Majority Vote (QMV), taking into account the latest Parliamentary elections; that candidate then faces a formal election in the
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legi ...

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 The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) is the organised, agree ...
by the European Council, each
Commissioner A commissioner is, in principle, a member of a commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the ...
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 The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legi ...

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 The European Council (informally EUCO) is a collegiate body that defines the overall political directions and priorities of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European U ...
. Following the College's appointment, the President appoints a number of Vice-Presidents (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 he or she is away.


Dismissal

The European Parliament can dissolve the College of Commissioners as a whole following a
vote of no-confidence A motion of no confidence, vote of no confidence, or no confidence motion, sometimes in the reverse as a motion of confidence or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote about whether a person in a position of responsibility (government, manager ...
but 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 The Barroso Commission was the European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governanc ...
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 The president of the European Council is the person presiding over and driving forward the work of the European Council The European Council (informally EUCO) is a collegiate body that defines the overall political directions and priori ...
under the
Treaty of Lisbon The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, als ...
. There has also been a greater degree of politicisation within the Commission.


Administration

The commission is divided into departments known as
Directorates-General Within the European Union, directorates-general are departments of the European Union government with specific zones of responsibility, the equivalent of Ministry (government department), ministries at a national level. Most are headed by a Europ ...
(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 Secretary is a title often used in organizations to indicate a person having a certain amount of authority, Power (social and political), power, or importance in the organization. Secretaries announce important events and communicate to the organi ...
. The position is currently held by
Ilze Juhansone Ilze Juhansone (1971) is a European civil servant and former Latvian diplomat. In August 2019, she became the acting secretary-general of the European Commission, pending the search for a full-time successor to Germany's Martin Selmayr. She was t ...
. 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 war A turf war is a fight over territory or resources, or may refer to: Music * ''Turf Wars'', a 2007 album by the Canadian band Daggermouth * "Turf War", a song on the 2001 album ''Filmtracks 2000'' by American composer Bill Television * ''Turf War ...
s 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 etc.) were employed. The single largest DG is the
Directorate-General for Translation The Directorate-General for Translation (DGT), located in Brussels and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, provides translations of written text into and out of the European Union's twenty-four Languages of the European Union, official languages. With an ...
, 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.


Press

Communication with the press is handled by the
Directorate-General Communication The Directorate-General for Communication (DG COMM) is a Directorate-General Within the European Union, directorates-general are departments of the European Union government with specific zones of responsibility, the equivalent of Ministry (govern ...
. The Commission's chief spokesperson is Eric Mamer who holds the midday
press Press commonly refers to: *Pressure, or the act of pressing *Printing press, commonly called "the press" *Print media, commonly called "the press" after the printing press Press may also refer to: People * Press (surname), a family name of English ...
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 A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to a news-worthy form and disseminates it to the publi ...

correspondent
. 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 consist of 2 TV channels: EbS and EbS+. It is managed by the European Commission The European Commission (EC) is the Executive (government), executive branch of ...
and EuroparlTV leads many news organisations to believe they can cover the EU from these source and News agency, news agencies. 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 1999 European Parliament election, 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, '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. The
Treaty of Lisbon The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement that amends the two treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, als ...
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 The European Parliament (EP) is one of three Legislature, legislative branches of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union, it adopts European legi ...

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 #BrusselsSoWhite.


Initiatives


Anti-terrorism

The European Commission has an Action Plan to enhance preparedness against CBRN defense, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (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. 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 European Union, 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.


Location

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 Brussels and the European Union, numerous other buildings in Brussels and
Luxembourg City Luxembourg ( lb, Lëtzebuerg; french: Luxembourg; german: Luxemburg), also known as Luxembourg City ( lb, Stad Lëtzebuerg, link=no or ; french: Ville de Luxembourg, link=no; german: Stadt Luxemburg, link=no or ), is the capital city A c ...
. When the Parliament is meeting in Strasbourg, the Commissioners also meet there in the Seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg#Secondary buildings, Winston Churchill building to attend the Parliament's debates. Additionally, the European Commission has facilities that support it in Alicante, Spain; Munich, Germany; and Varese, Italy.


See also

* European Free Trade Association Surveillance Authority * List of European Commissioners by nationality * EU Open Data Portal * European Data Portal


References


External links


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

on EUR-Lex
Documents
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 European Commission, Anti-dumping authorities Organizations established in 1967 Organisations based in Brussels