Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

European Commission (EC)

Source: Europa Nu.


The European Commission is the executive body of the EU and runs its day-to-day business. It is made up of the College of Commissioners, 28 European Commissioners, one for each member state, who are each responsible for one or several policy areas. In addition, the 'Commission' also refers to the entire administrative body that supports the Commissioners, consisting of the Directorates-General and the Services.

The European Commission is the sole EU body capable of proposing new legislation. The Commission also performs an oversight function, monitoring whether European legislation is properly implemented in the member states. In the event of non-compliance, the Commission can coerce a member state to comply by starting a legal procedure at the European Court of Justice.

Besides this, the Commission represents the EU in negotiations in international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation concerning the Union's trade relations with countries outside the EU. It holds this function so that it can monitor for any unauthorized state support by foreign governments to European companies, which would jeopardize Europe's competitive position. Finally, the Commission is responsible for managing the European budget of approximately 140 billion euros yearly.

The current Juncker Commission was approved by the European Parliament on the 22nd of October 2014, and by the European Council a day later. It assumed office on the 3rd of November 2014.


Powers and responsibilities

The separation of powers between the three most important institutions of the European Union can be summarized in broad strokes: the European Commission proposes new legislation and regulation, the European Parliament debates these and can propose amendments, following which Parliament and the Council of the European Union jointly finalise a decision. The European Court of Justice watches over the integrity of these decisions. Its rulings hold priority over the legislation of member states.

The Commission has five main tasks:



The European Commission consists of 28 members, together referred to as the College of Commissioners, and a sizeable administrative office. Each Commissioner heads one or more directorates-general, which in turn cover one or more areas of policy.

A newly created position in the Juncker Commission, the Vice Presidents have a special role. Each heads a project team, covering a cluster of closely connected policy areas, which can block proposals by other Commissioners.

The Commission generally meets once a week in Brussels, on Wednesday. At these meetings, each Commissioner explains the items on the agenda related to their area of policy. Decisions are made by the 28 members of the Commission by unqualified majority vote. Once a decision has been made, it is integral to Commission policy.


Legal framework

The legal foundations for the European Commission and its powers are codified in the Treaty on European Union (also known as the Maastricht Treaty) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


More information

Fact sheet by the European Parliament



Legislative proposals in negotiation

There are 599 proposals for legislative or other legal instruments of this Directorate-General in negotiations with the Council and the European Parliament.
Date Title
03.05.2017  Council decision for authorisation of the Commission to open negotiations on an agreement with the United Kingdom setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal from ...
Recommendation com(2017)218
07.02.2013  Executive summary of the impact assessment accompanying the document: measures to ensure a high level of network and information security across the Union.
Working paper swd(2013)31
07.02.2013  Impact assessment accompanying the document: measures to ensure a high level of network and information security across the Union.
03.02.2012  Capital movements and investments in the EU - Commission services' paper on market monitoring.
Working paper swd(2012)6
04.02.2011  PUBLIC CONSULTATION: Towards a Coherent European Approach to Collective Redress.
Working paper sec(2011)173


Legislation currently being implemented

There are 158 laws or other legal instruments of the Council and the European Parliament, previously proposed by undefined, which are currently being implemented by the member states.
Date Title
18.11.2009  Signing and provisional application of the Framework Agreement with Korea.
Decision com(2009)631
14.10.2009  Jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of ...
Regulation com(2009)154
08.09.2009  EC position within the International Jute Study Group Council on extension of the Agreement establishing the Terms of Reference of the International Jute Study Group, ...
Decision com(2009)460
08.09.2009  Signing of the 'Terms of Reference for the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation' (IPEEC) and the 'Memorandum concerning the hosting by the ...
Decision com(2009)438
07.09.2009  Temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores.
Regulation com(2009)370


Legislation in force

There are at least 123 laws or other legal instruments in force that have been previously proposed by undefined.
Date Title
13.07.2011  Voorstel voor een BESLUIT VAN DE RAAD inzake de ondertekening van de Overeenkomst tussen de Europese Unie en de Republiek Turkije inzake bepaalde aspecten van ...
Decision com(2010)413
15.09.2009  Establishment of the EC position to be adopted in the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation.
Decision com(2009)474
10.09.2009  Signature and conclusion of a voluntary partnership agreement with Ghana on forest law enforcement, governance and trade in timber products into the EC.
Decision com(2009)468
08.09.2009  Signing and provisional application of an Agreement between the European Commission and Switzerland establishing the terms and conditions for the participation of ...
Decision com(2009)462
03.09.2009  Authorisation of the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize MON 88017 (MON-88Ø17-3) pursuant to ...
Decision com(2009)444