Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

European Commission (EC)

Met dank overgenomen van Europa Nu.

1.

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.

2.

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:

3.

Organization

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.

4.

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.

5.

More information

Fact sheet by the European Parliament